There have been several news stories over the last few years that have reported that reading as a daily activity is on the decline — and not just in children. Adults are just as guilty (if not more so) for not indulging in the written word. And while the idea that so many among us aren’t making time for the classics of literature is regrettable, the fact that we’re missing out on some of the more subtle benefits of reading is much more concerning.
If you find yourself struggling to find a few minutes each day to spend with a good book, perhaps this list containing the benefits of reading will inspire you to read a chapter or two before the day is out.
Reading Stimulates Your Brain
Most of us are familiar with what happens if we fail to exercise our bodies. They get sluggish, maybe even weaker. The same can be said for the brain. Like any other part of your body, the key to maintaining a healthy brain is making sure it gets enough exercise. Reading is one of the most effective exercises you can do as it stimulates multiple parts of your brain simultaneously.
If that weren’t reason enough to curl up with a good book, consider this: studies have shown that mental stimulation is the best way to ward off degenerative conditions that affect the brain, like dementia and Alzheimers.
Reading Reduces Stress
The daily grind is loaded with stressors. Everything from your job to commuting, bills to personal relationships, much of what comprises our lives can add to our stress levels. Reading a book lets your mind wander to a world where these stressors are no longer a factor, which is good; consistently high-stress levels can negatively impact your brain, your mood, and your physical well-being. When the stress gets to be too much, reading can act as a pressure release valve you and your brain so desperately needs.
Reading Books Increases Your Knowledge, Memory, and Analytic Thinking
Knowledge is power — in the case of reading, this is true in more ways than one. With each page you read, you add to your breadth of knowledge, no matter how minor or seemingly insignificant details may appear to be.
Likewise, reading is a great way to increase your ability to remember things. Reading a book often requires the reader to remember a host of characters, plotlines, events and so on. It might not sound like it, but with each new memory, your brain gets stronger. Not only do they create additional neural pathways in your brain, but they also strengthen existing ones which can help with your short-term memory.
Finally, reading can improve your ability to think critically and analytically. We’ve all read stories where we’ve been able to deduce certain information that had not yet been divulged (remember that mystery novel you read where you put together the clues and figured out the murderer before the author intended you to?) — that’s a direct result of being able to gather details, process them, and develop a correct assertion.
Reading Improves Your Vocabulary and Your Foreign Language Skills
Unfortunately, short-form writing, abbreviations, and emojis make up an increasingly significant portion of our daily communication. Reading books on a wide range of topics exposes the reader to a much wider vocabulary, which can then be applied to other facets of daily life.
Reading Books Improves Your Writing Skills
Naturally, as your vocabulary improves, so too will your writing skills. Of course, an improvement in spelling can be expected the more one reads, but it doesn’t stop there. Unbeknownst to the reader, reading can improve other aspects of writing such as style, structure, and the ability to tell a story well.
Reading Can Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to understand, identify, and manage emotions in a positive way. Since extreme emotions can often set us off the rails when they occur unexpectedly, having a good emotional intelligence is key to fortifying your ability to maintain composure in emotional situations.
Unfortunately, humans are not born with a high level of emotional intelligence — it is developed and improved through our own experiences and the things that we observe. As we read, we expose our brains to emotional situations (fictitious or otherwise) that requires us to comprehend and consider how we might react in a similar situation. The more we read, the more robust our emotional intelligence.
If the list above offered reason enough to reconsider your reading habits, great! If not, we’ll leave you with this: reading is a fun and easy way to keep the most important part of your body healthy. Did we mention that there are plenty of online bookstores to find cheap books online? Not that you know the importance of reading and knowing you can do it on a dime, what’s holding you back?