At all times, but especially this past summer, I’ve been focused on improving my overall physical health and well-being. I’ve changed my diet and lost 25 pounds, and have learned to run (apparently running is a learned skill, not so easy to just get off the couch one day and do it!) I’m so proud of my achievements and am working every day to better myself.
One area that we all can improve on, and that needs special attention sometimes more than others, is our mental health and well-being. We’re told to learn ways to reduce stress but it can be difficult when we’re running households and working. For me, I’ve made a conscious and deliberate choice to return to one of my favorite past times: reading. It turns out, it does more than just feed my need to slow down, reading actually has overall health and wellness benefits:
1) Reading Can Reduce Stress
According to a 2009 study conducted by the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, reading can reduce stress levels by as much as 68 percent, even more than listening to music or going for a walk. Study co-author Dr. David Lewis, a neuropsychologist at Mindlab International at Sussex, and colleagues found that participants who engaged in just 6 minutes of reading – whether a newspaper or a book – experienced a slowed heart rate and reduced muscle tension.
2) Reading Can Improve Sleep
Smartphones have become our regular bedtime buddy. Where’s the harm in having a quick check of Facebook before lights out? According to research, it could wreak havoc for your sleep. A study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that using a smartphone just before bedtime is linked to shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality. This is primarily because the light emitted from the devices reduces production of melatonin in the brain – a hormone that tells us when to sleep. So what better excuse to swap your smartphone for a book before bedtime; according to the Mayo Clinic, creating a bedtime ritual – such as reading a book – can “promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.”
3) Reading Can Enhance Social Skills
A study reported by MNT found that individuals who read fiction scored much higher on tests of empathy than those who read nonfiction. Study author Keith Oatley, of the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the University of Toronto, suggests that fiction allows the reader to engage with the characters, which may lead to increased empathy with others in reality. Plus, it offers great conversation starters with your friends when you can bring up the latest great read (also: finding a book club is a great way to get out more and meet new people who hold a common interest!)
If you’re looking for your next great read, ask your friends what they’re reading and what they’d recommend. I’ve also really enjoyed the Goodreads App this summer – users rate and give reviews on the books they’ve read and you can make a list of books you’re interested in reading later too.
I’ve got an amazing giveaway to share with readers from my friends at Simon and Schuster Canada! They sent me the books in the photograph and I’ve devoured two of them so far!
Have you read any of the above or head some buzz about them? Still Water is actually Book 2 in a series, but I didn’t realize this until after I was finished reading it (Still Mine is book 1) so you could read it on its own like I did too. It was a really great mystery! Now, the second book of the group I’ve read so far that I absolutely loved and would put on my Top Books for 2018 is Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding! If you liked Big Little Lies and that type of genre, I think you’d like this book too. It’s a really great story, and if you have any familiarity with Canadian crime in the past few decades, you might sense some familiarity like I did (please message me if you read it so we can talk about it later!) I’m going to read Foe by Iain Reid next, which is a bit of a departure from what I’ve been reading lately but sounds really interesting (full links are above to learn more about each book!)
Simon and Schuster Canada is giving my readers the opportunity to win 1 of 3 prize packages featuring all these books! To enter to win, simply fill in your name and email address in the form below and then click BEGIN! Then simply leave a comment on this blog post telling me why YOU love reading! Don’t forget there are bonus entries available to increase your chances! Good luck everyone!