Out of all the good habits you can implement into your life, reading is easily one of the most important ones. As an avid reader my whole life, I have learned so much from books. They have helped shape my perspectives and outlooks on life, expanded my knowledge and have helped me intumesce my vocabulary(see). With leisure reading being reported at an all time low by the Washington Post, I thought now would be a perfect time for me to shed some light on why I believe everyone should cut some time out of their day to read. Let’s get started!
It’s Good for the Brain
Unlike watching TV, reading is extremely good for your well being. For starters, it strengthens your brain. Reading increases the connectivity within your brain, especially the region of your brain that responds to physical sensations, the somatosensory cortex. Reading has been shown to require multiple connections and complex networks in the brain and as you continue to read, these connections becomes stronger and more sophisticated.
Not only does reading improve your brain connectivity but it also helps prevent age-related cognitive decline. Reading helps keep your mind engaged as you grow older with some studies even showing that reading books may even help reduce brain related diseases like Alzheimer’s. Although this doesn’t apply only to reading, simply doing mentally stimulating activities will help with preventing plaques, lesions and tau-protein tangles from developing. So turn Netflix off, pick up a book and then after solve some math problems (or maybe just stick to the reading).
The other various mental benefits of reading are;
- Reduces Stress
- Reduces depression symptoms
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
- Contributes to a longer life
Improve your focus
John Fish, Harvard student and Youtuber, made an excellent video on why he believes reading is important now more than ever, you can give it a watch here https://youtu.be/Ts9GIkK4Tpg . I will summarize his points as I whole heartedly agree with him.
During this age of social media and information overload, we’ve trained our brains to be really good at context switching. Think about it, all social media apps are designed for you to consume large amounts of short content. Twitter wants you read hundreds of short stories, Instagram wants you to look at hundreds of photos, Tik Tok wants you to watch hundreds of videos etc. Consuming social media, along with our hectic lives has helped train our mind to be good at multi-tasking, although multi-tasking is a myth so a better name is context switching. As a generation and society, we’re really good at switching between different content and different tasks. What we need to improve is; our ability to focus and think deeply about subjects.
This is where reading comes in. Although when you first take up this habit it might be really difficult to sit and read for 30 minutes, as you commit and practice it day in and day out, your ability to focus and comprehend things will greatly improve. Reading allows you to break from constant context switching, and solely and truly focus on one subject. Despite all the other benefits listed above, I think this one is the most notable.
What should I read?
I personally love non-fiction. I read a lot of self help books, biographies and books diving in deep on various topics. I personally find non-fiction to be super interesting as it helps me learn about various subjects I otherwise wouldn’t know anything about. But for the benefits listed above, any type of reading will do. I think the most important thing to do is simply to read. Pick up a book on your favourite subject, or read Harry Potter, the real benefit comes from concentrating and fully comprehending the words on the page, it doesn’t really matter what the contents of the pages are. What is most important is that you enjoy what you’re reading so that you consistently do it and are more engaged.
I hope you learned a nugget or two of information from this. Let me know what your favourite book is! And thanks for reading 😊