The world we live in is fast-paced. There are things shouting for our attention everywhere. Whether you’re at home watching TV, or out and about, there is always something – news, blogs, Twitter, commercials, the endless streams of things on Facebook, people trying to sell you something on the streets. With all the information overload it’s no wonder we have trouble focussing on anything. Our mind is trained to constantly shift and process all the different input. Silencing the mind sometimes feels like an art only mastered by Buddhist monks.
But there is an easier way and the book-lovers amongst us already know this: books. Reading stories have surprising benefits for your mind and soul, plus it is a great way to relax and enjoy some time away from all the bright screens.
Stress melts away
A photo of someone reading, snuggled up with a cup of tea can make you instantly long for a book. The idea of reading a book not only sounds relaxed, reading actually reduces stress by 68%. After having books forced upon you during university, it’s easy to forget the benefits of getting lost in a good story – been there, done that.
Also, incidentally, books help you drift off to sleep as well. It helps the body wind down sleep longer. The light coming from digital devices such as phones and e-readers will keep you awake and will make you feel less sleepy. So ditch Instagram (I am guilty of this too, so let’s do it together), and get lost again into stories.
Focus your attention
The world is a fast place, there is something new every second on Twitter, your Facebook timeline is always changing, and you can never reach the end of the news. It is no wonder our mind jumps from one topic to another. Focusing on one thing can be hard. But have you ever noticed that when you read a really good book, the rest of the world disappears? That is because reading helps your mind to focus and concentrate. Reading as much as 15-20 minutes a day will do wonders.
Speaking of concentration, all that reading not only improves that, but it boosts your brainpower as well. It improves your memory, gives you time to think and works your brain muscle. It’s basically a workout for your mind. And want to know the fun part? It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as it’s on paper. So get out those gossip mags, because that still beats watching tv.
Increase your vocabulary
But if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, books can not only improve your knowledge, but your vocabulary too. Remember when you were young and asked your parents every other sentence what a word meant? Reading keeps doing that even if you’re well in your twenties. You might not have to look up every other word, and can gather most of the meaning through the context, but it will continue to build your vocabulary as well as your knowledge of proverbs and expressions. Incidentally, reading is also a great way to learn another language.
Be a creative thinker
So now that your brain is relaxed, working more efficiently, more focused, and has an amazing vocabulary to work with, it does something else too (because our minds are amazing, that’s why). Reading will help you unlock your creative thinking. In some stories, like science fiction, absurd things happen and your mind needs to adapt to accept this reality as real in the context of the story. It will help you to think outside of the box, and solve problems at the same time. For instance, you figured out the ‘whodunnit’ well before the book ends, or you can see the solution of a problem before the characters do. All of which will come in handy in everyday life. No problem will be too big for you.
But that’s not all! Reading has a lot more benefits. One of other surprising ones is that it will help you lose weight. Stress causes you to hold onto your body fat, by relaxing and getting enough sleep, you’ll be able to lose weight faster – reading helps with this.
So why not leave the tv off tonight, grab a book (and a glass of wine or tea, your choice), and dive into its imaginary world. And don’t forget to share in the comments what you’re reading, as ever single one of us is always looking for new books to read. You can never have too many books on your to-read pile right? Happy reading!