Read About the Profound Benefits of Reading
It’s the oldest form of entertainment, once separating the commoners from royalty. The power of reading is something we’ve known about all our lives.
But in the time of smartphones and screens that can seemingly unlock the secrets of the universe, it feels like books have fallen by the wayside in favor of the next shiny object on our screen.
Though we should definitely appreciate the wealth of content and information at our disposal, we all know it has long overstayed its welcome.
We’re getting burned out in seemingly record time, trying to stay up to date with the latest internet trend or political development.
It’s information overload at its finest and strongest — that’s why we need books more than ever.
Because reading is the oldest form of entertainment — the prelude to films and video games — its provides all sort of benefits. Here are some scientifically proven benefits of reading and how you can comfortably include reading in your everyday life.
Scrolling through web pages and social media feeds is fun, but it has its caveats. One of the notable side effects of chronically scrolling through the web is a shoddy short-term memory.
We often fall into a routine of jumping between different social media platforms to maintain some sort of dopamine-filled momentum. As such, our attention spans laser in on that brief moment of stimulation, neglecting long-form information in the process.
Once you open a book — even a collection of short stories — your brain is tasked with processing pieces of information that will be important up to the story’s end.
Twist endings are a good example, where a sudden or shocking revelation makes sense given everything that’s happened prior to the story.
If you’re beginning a reading habit, don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re struggling to retain information. Your brain will slowly acclimate to this new pace, just give it the time to get into its own rhythm.
Beyond the potential for brain power, empathy is one of the unspoken benefits of reading. This especially applies to fiction, where you’re reading a story from another person’s perspective.
A study by the Public Library of Science found that reading — specifically fiction — contributes to a higher level of empathy in the reader.
Reading fiction allows you to immerse yourself in another’s life, learning about their trials and tribulations, struggles, and general outlook on life. It allows you to walk a mile in their shoes, seeing the world in a way you couldn’t imagine on your own.
Understanding this makes you more patient and understanding of others around you (though the jury is out if you’re reading a revenge tale.)
When you read, you’re able to decompress after the tug of war from social media outlets. A well-known side effect of social media use is increased stress.
Knowing this, it shouldn’t be too surprising that reading has been scientifically proven to decrease stress levels.
Read a little bit when you’re taking a break at work. Mindlessly scrolling through multiple social feeds prevents your brain from truly resting and recovering.
This is also why reading is a fantastic nightcap. Most of our jobs revolve around technology: the clicking of the mouse, the clattering of the keyboard, a screen bright enough to light up the entire room.
Wrap up your bedtime routine by lying on your bed or couch next to a dim lamp, setting your phone aside face-down, picking up your book, and reading.
Studies have shown that reading before bed instead of scrolling through social media gives you more restful sleep, in turn helping you be more alert and productive throughout the day.
Remember that sleep isn’t just a way to recover from the previous day — you’re setting the groundwork for what’s to come.
The biggest point of contention in the reading community is how you’re reading it. The physical/eBook debate has been raging for years and won’t die down anytime soon.
There isn’t one right or wrong answer. It all depends on your preference and whatever is more convenient and beneficial to you.
Print books have a distinct advantage in the aesthetic department. They act as fantastic shelf space for your home, adding a sense of enlightenment and sophistication that really pulls the room together (depending on what the books are of course)
Beyond the visual appeal, physical books just feel “right” for many readers. You can hold it, feel it, and see your progress after each turn of the page. It’s almost intimate: it’s you and the book with nothing in between to disrupt either of you.
Physical books can also age gracefully. Every bit of wear and tear becomes a story on its own, adding a certain charm that’s separate from the actual story. You can’t trade electronic books after all.
That’s not to say electronic books are completely dull. Having a reading device like a Kindle relieves you of the clutter and maintenance that physical books require.
You can have as many books as you want in a single device, which makes reading while traveling way less cumbersome.
Some readers are turned off by tattered books or the smell of old book pages. Electronic books offer a more pristine reading experience that doesn’t degrade with the passage of time.
Is that part of the fun for some readers? Absolutely. However, it’s not a big priority for others.
All in all, whatever way you read your books is entirely up to you. Do what is right for you and move forward.
What matters is you’re getting the benefits of reading and your brain something other than the latest Facebook reel or political scandal (unless that’s what the book is about).
We haven’t even touched on audiobooks but that’s a whole other can of worms — all this writer will say is that it’s a commuter’s best friend.
There’s a reason why reading has endured through the centuries. Its simplicity is sophistication. There are no elaborate bells and whistles to enhance the experience.
The words on the page are the experience, a take-it-or-leave-it proposition at its very finest.
It’s that simplicity where the benefits of reading become clear. It doesn’t require you to swipe down to update; it doesn’t need the occasional software patch.
The words on the page and the turning of the page are the sources of the benefits of reading. Give yourself the time and space to read, whether that be first thing in the morning or the last thing you do before bed.
The benefits of reading are there for the taking — all you have to do is open a book.