Can Reading Help Your Mental Health?


Woman reading on the grassPeople who while away a few hours reading a book may be doing more than simply enjoying a story. In our screen-saturated society, spending time with a book can be more than just good entertainment.

According to a variety of studies, immersing yourself in the pages of a book could be a boost for your mental health.


How Reading Reduces Anxiety

Researchers at the University of Sussex have determined that reading may be one of the best stress reduction methods. Participants in a University of Sussex study were exposed to stressors that increased their heart rate and stress levels, and were then tested with a variety of relaxation methods.

When compared with more traditional stress-busters such as listening to music, taking a walk or having a cup of tea, reading was most successful at mitigating anxiety, reducing stress by more than 68 percent. Researchers believe that engaging the brain in the fictional world of a story can redirect the mind’s focus away from stressful thoughts for a more calming effect.

Stress can affect both the mind and the body, but easing anxiety may be as simple as picking up a book.

The Mental Health Benefits of Bibliotherapy

Bibliotherapy harnesses reading to improve one’s mental health and emotional well-being. Although a bibliotherapy reading list can be individualized according to a person’s specific tastes and needs, a study published in PLOS ONE revealed that reading self-help books, in combination with professionally guided support, helped to ease symptoms of clinical depression. Self-help books can encourage people to develop the necessary tools for managing mental health and as well as helping to improve their coping skills.