Now Is The Time To Read More

Books give us clarity when we’re losing touch with the world.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

George R.R. Martin once famously quoted, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” As humans, we crave comfort, clarity and clear pathways to the future. But right now, we’re living in a period that’s full of roadblocks, and Martin’s words could just be the key to unravelling our rising unrest.

Pandemics are great for reading, as it turns out. We’re being plagued by ‘bad news’ and anxiety-driven headlines that we can’t escape, but we have the opportunity to dive into a world between two covers and a spine. It’s an escape, but it’s a healthy one.

So why is this all so important? Because isolation, loneliness and being out of routine makes us forget the important emotions we need to survive and thrive. We’re losing them — empathy, kindness, hopefulness perspective and respect — but we can get them all back by opening our minds to the words of others and being kinder on our own ways of thinking.

Reasons To Read More Right Now

I’ve made it a daily ritual for myself to read when I get up and taste the first sip of coffee for the morning. I read when I’m winding down and trying to get my mind to switch off ‘work mode’. But I also use this escape when I’m feeling out-of-touch with my own emotions or feel I need to ignite my sense of inspiration again.

If we all dedicated time to opening our minds and actively learning new views on the topics that interest us or even make us unnerved, we’d all be a lot more understanding of each other.

Ultimately, reading is a gift that can give you perspective on things you otherwise wouldn’t have considered — and that, in itself, is something worth treasuring. While you’re in isolation and scrolling through social feeds you’re better off disengaging with (temporarily), you might just find that trying your hand at reading can bring you unexpected relief.

Here’s why.

It Powers Up Your Brain

Reading is scientifically proven to make you smarter. The process alone kickstarts ‘fluid intelligence’, combining emotional intelligence with it. Add in a sprinkle of reading comprehension, and suddenly you’re rewiring your brain to think differently or make smarter decisions.

Nothing is more attractive than an enlightened mind. Giving yourself time to exercise your brain — just like you would your body — is something worth boasting about. If you’re actively feeding your mind day in and day out, you’re giving yourself the ability to power up your consciousness and enhance cognitive function. It also turns your memory into a powerhouse — and wouldn’t we all benefit from that?

If that’s not convincing enough for you, here are a few other brain-related benefits to reading:

  • It keeps your mind sharper over time.
  • It has the potential to decrease mental decline by up to 32 per cent, according to The Huffington Post.
  • It forces you to slow down the anxious mind.
  • It can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Rewiring Yourself To Be More Empathetic

It’s a big worry of mine that, as a society, we’re losing touch with positive emotions and personality traits that make this world a better place to be in. It’s hard enough to deal with war, pandemics, financial crises and everyday anxiety without humanity lacking kindness and generosity.

Add to that the rise the TikTok age and influencer-driven social media content, and we’re all suddenly unaware that there are others around us that deserve our outward attention. We’re turning inwards, and we need to remember there’s a world outside of our own.

If we all dedicated time to opening our minds and actively learning new views on the topics that interest us or even make us unnerved, we’d all be a lot more understanding of each other.

That’s where reading more comes in. Getting lost in a good book allows you to relate better to those around you. In fiction especially, you develop better habits of understanding what characters think, how their personalities are wired and the consequences of their actions. Even subconsciously, you apply all of this new knowledge and insight into your own everyday living.

As told in Science, the impact of reading has a far greater outcome on our emotional intelligence than we even seem to realise.

“Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies,” the authors noted.

When we are failing at building our own solid connections to people or losing out on our inability to think sympathetically, reading the work of others can be the key to regaining traction. As we remain in isolation during this COVID-19 pandemic, this particular fact couldn’t be more important for us as a collective, united community.

Anxiety, Sleep And Mental Health

I’ve battled a lot of demons in 2020, just like the rest of us. But mostly my life has changed in so many ways that I almost can’t keep up with it all. When I lose myself in the words of other authors, poets or bloggers, I regain my sense of perspective and decrease the likelihood that I’ll panic about my lack of personal clarity.

Nothing is more attractive than an enlightened mind.

In fact, studies conducted by Sussex University indicate that the act of reading can reduce stress by up to 68 per cent. When your workload is overbearing and you seemingly can’t disconnect from the whirlwind of ‘Bad News Days’, this escape couldn’t be more welcomed — especially to your brain.

If that’s not enough though, actively including some downtime with your go-to book can also be a healthy bedtime routine. It signals your body that it’s time to rest and wrap up the day, helping you to zone out from screens around you. While the debate around e-readers vs. traditional books is still out on the verdict, choosing to engage in reading activities is undeniably a better way of spending your time when you’re otherwise feeling lost.

At night, your brain wanders into unchartered territory, trying to sift through your own personal memories and actions. Choosing to invest your time before sleeping into reading can help your brain to make smarter connections about the workings of your day. You’ll rise the next morning with a sharper mind that hasn’t been burdened by bad sleep or a busy sub-conscience.

Final Thoughts

There’s so much to love about picking up a book and really losing all you have in it. Your own world will be there waiting for you when you finish, so don’t discourage yourself from disconnecting with this world temporarily.

Sometimes it’s comforting to know that there are other narratives out there that can protect you from your own mind or the inner-workings of mental health. But beyond that, it’s even more relieving to understand that reading gives you the ability to be a better person. The world could always use a bit more of that.

Writer + mentor. Content marketing expert. SEO fangirl. All-round creative.

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