Self-Care Saturdays: Get Lost in a Book
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss
Coming from a family of bookworms, my passion for reading was instilled in me from a young age. Wherever I go, I almost always have a book with me, and never purchase a new handbag that won’t fit at least one paperback. My Amazon wish list has become quite unwieldy, I own bookmarks I’ve had since childhood, and my husband calls me a book hoarder, due to my ever expanding library! Because I’m so convinced that reading is one of the greatest pleasure in life, I am one of those tedious nerds that likes to give books as gifts for birthdays or Christmas. Yes, reading is that important to me!
Reading for pleasure still matters to many. These days, more and more people are downloading e-books, yet eight-eight percent of Americans who purchase e-books continue to read print copies as well. Indeed, for all the convenience of an instant digital download, we don’t want to give up the joy of a good old fashioned read of a real book!
The good news is that diving into a page-turner also offers benefits toward your health and happiness. Here are some reasons why you should lose yourself amongst the pages of a good read:
Reading raises intelligence levels
Getting caught up in a compelling story opens up a whole world of knowledge and imagination from a young age. Children who read for pleasure are exposed to 50 percent more words than they are watching television. Continued exposure to new vocabulary leads to higher scores on reading tests, as well as tests of intelligence. Research suggests that stronger reading skills leads to higher intelligence scores later in life.
Reading boosts brain power
Just like going for a run exercises your heart, reading regularly improves memory function by giving your brain a vigorous workout. With age comes a decline in memory and brain function, but regular reading may help slow the aging process, keeping minds sharper longer.
Reading increases empathy
Losing yourself in a good yarn can make it easier for you to relate to personal experiences of other people. Literary fiction, in particular, has the power to inspire readers to identify with what others are thinking and feeling by connecting to the character’s subjective experiences. The impact on one’s ability to empathize is much more significant amongst those who read fiction as opposed to those who read nonfiction.
Reading fights Alzheimer’s
People who who engage their brains through regular reading, or other mentally stimulating activities like chess or puzzles, could be two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who spend their down time on less stimulating activities. Evidence suggests that a lack of cognitive activity actually increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Reading is relaxing
Curling up with a good book and a nice cup of tea sounds pretty appealing after a long day at work! Indeed, research suggests that getting engrossed in a book reduces stress by as much as 68 percent, helping you escape from the day's worries and concerns, as you enter the world of the author’s imagination.
Reading prepares you for sleep
Settling down at the end of the day with a book signals your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare to go to sleep. Establishing a bedtime reading ritual helps you relax more than vegging in front of the television. In fact, it has been verified that any late evening screen time can interfere with sleep, including reading on tablets or e-readers. This is yet another case for choosing traditional print books!
Reading is contagious
If you would wish for your kids to become avid readers, create a habit of reading out loud to your children throughout their elementary school years. Doing so inspires them to develop a passion for reading that could last a lifetime!