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Why reading can be good for your mental health

There’s little doubt that we’re living through rather uncertain times at the moment. From Covid-chaos to ongoing lockdowns; not to mention the dreaded home-schooling for those of us with kids – now, more than ever, more and more people are turning to reading for some much needed me-time and escapism.

And – while the bookworms among us may not need another excuse to curl up on the sofa with their favourite book for a night between the pages – it helps to know that our favourite past time brings with it a wealth of health benefits to boot.

From increasing empathy to broadening your vocabulary and lowering your stress levels, here are some of the many benefits burying your head in a book can bring.

Reading can decrease stress levels

If – like most of us – life is a little more stressful than usual; and you’ve had a bad day in the (home) office or are struggling with the juggling act that is life, losing yourself between the pages of a good book can help. A 2009 study found that reading for half an hour has the same stress-reducing effects as a thirty-minute yoga practise.

Need an uplifting read? Try Of Gold and Dust, featured in Luxuread’s March book box.

Reading offers an alternative to screen time

Unlike scrolling through Instagram or messaging back and forth on Whatsapp, reading a physical book is a great way to wind down at the end of the day. We all know that too much screen time can have a negative impact on both the ease with which we fall asleep and the quality of our shut-eye; reading – on the other hand – is known for its relaxing effects, thus making it the perfect activity to do before bed.

Need a book that will have you hooked? Try The Truth About Her, featured in Luxuread’s June book box.

Reading boosts intelligence

A study in 2014 found that those who cultivate a strong reading habit in their early years grow up to be more intelligent. The cognitive development of 1,890 sets of identical twins was measured, and early reading skills was found to be the factor that decided which twin would be better at verbal and non-verbal tests. And so, not only can books be great for entertainment and escapism; they too can work wonders on your brain.

Need a book to boost your brain? Try Who Gets to be Smart, featured in Luxuread’s July book box.

Reading fosters empathy

As well as increasing intelligence levels, a diligent reading habit can also make you kinder. Studies have shown that readers of literary fiction have an easier time showing empathy towards others; and as most of us will know the feeling of caring enormously about a character in one of our favourite books – it’s easy to see why.

Need a book that will make you think differently? Try I Am A Girl from Africa, featured in Luxuread’s June book box.