As a child, you were constantly reminded by your teachers (and hopefully your parents as well) to read more. And whether or not that sunk in, the fact is that reading for even 20 – 30 minutes every day can have a profound and positive impact on your mental health. From news apps on your phone to a good old fashioned book, here are a few science-backed reasons why you should read every day.
Increase Your Knowledge
The most obvious benefit of reading is being able to improve your knowledge about nearly any subject you want to know more about. And while you shouldn’t trust everything you read without investigation, knowledge gleaned from reading tends to be more reliable than information located on the internet. There’s no denying that it’s much easier for keyboard warriors to hammer out a thought-piece than it is for a book to be published.
The more knowledge you have about various subjects, the more prepared you will be in various circumstances throughout life. Additionally, it is important to note that while all of your material possessions can be taken from you, you will always have your knowledge to rely on as you go through the ups and downs of life. Use your knowledge as tools to thrive and succeed in life.
Exercise the Brain
With the rise of social media and other technological advances, how we search for and obtain information has become a near instantaneous process. For example, as Amazon’s voice-activated personal assistant, Alexa, users are able to access information like weather, traffic, personal reminders, and even ask it thousands of different questions within seconds.
While it may seem like a massive convenience, AI-powered tools such as these have made our brains lazy. As such, it is imperative that we exercise the brain regularly with activities like reading. The simple act of processing the words in our heads and learning new ones can prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s, according to one study conducted by the Cochrane Library, a scientific review board in the United Kingdom. As we age, establishing a daily habit of reading can also help preserve our memory, both short-term and long-term.
Improve Analytical Thinking Skills
Whether you notice it or not, your brain is actually engaging in analytical thinking as you read. Trying to understand a complex plot line or developing an opinion on the catastrophic ending to WWII through the pages of a book can be an excellent exercise for analytical thinking. This is especially true for children and young adults who are just developing more advanced methods of analyzation. Being able to accurately analyze a difficult situation and respond accordingly can have a lasting positive effect on both the individual’s career and life trajectory. Developing this set of analytical skills can also be beneficial when holding meaningful conversations with others.
Finally, reading can also be very beneficial in managing stress levels. Being able to routinely set aside time every night before bed (it doesn’t have to be more than 30 minutes) to decompress from the daily stressors of life can have a significant positive effect on your well-being. By relaxing with a book once per day, you’re giving your mind a break from the constant stream of responsibility-related thoughts, allowing it to relax while still staying stimulated.
Technology has made reading even easier than it was before. While I’m totally a supporter of printed books, I can definitely see the benefits of using e-book devices like the Kindle. Almost all modern phones can be installed with apps that allow for e-books to be read as well, meaning that you’ll always have your favorite books in your pocket, wherever you go. However, if you do opt for an electronic reading device, make sure to keep your neck from tilting downward and developing the dreaded “text neck” syndrome.