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Monday, April 1, 2019

You Should Read Books


I have adored reading since I learned how around age 5. I remember spending hours all through my childhood in my room reading novels. Before I became a teenager I was even happy to re-read my favorite books over and over again.

Obviously, I still love to read as I post a lot of book reviews. There is not a single day that goes by that I don't read. If not while on the subway to and from work, then for certain in the evening before bed. There is nothing I would rather do (actually nothing I am really willing to do) after 8pm, then curl up and read.

Lately, I have felt more pressure to tackle the growing list of books I want to read to help inform my work as a therapist. Since there is only so much time in a day, I decided to start reading them at night instead of fiction/literature. At first I was worried it wouldn't relax me the same way as purely pleasure reading does, but I am happy to say it seems regardless of what I am reading, it is the perfect activity to relax me just before falling asleep. Lately I have been reading everything from memoirs, to historical fiction, to existential philosophy and psychological theories.

I do not understand when people say they don't read. Like exercise, its good for the mind, body and soul!

There is evidence that reading can:

Lower stress

Preserve brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alleviate anxiety and depression

Help you fall asleep

Increase life expectancy

Boost happiness and overall life satisfaction

Reading accomplishes all of this by activating your mind, providing an escape from day-to-day life, and offering refreshed perspective for life’s challenges

A common complaint I get from a lot of my clients struggling with anxiety, low self-worth and depression is that "everyone" is doing better than them. Usually it's something like:

"Everyone else has a happy relationship"
"Everyone else gets pregnant easily"
"Everyone else has more money/a more successful career than me"
"Everyone else is thinner/prettier than me"

The clients who usually have this perspective, by the way, are not the ones in very low paid jobs, living in dingy, basement apartments and are unusually unattractive. The problem is, they consider the few people in their proximal environment as representative of "everyone". Reading is one of the ways to get beyond your own narrow view of the world, because all of us can otherwise get sucked down the "everyone else" vortex.

Reading is a great way to get out of your own life, learn more about yourself, others, and the world. Hey, maybe you can't visit every country on the planet, but you can read about them! You can read books to learn, to entertain, to relax, to laugh, to escape, you name it. While many people use social media/the Internet for these reasons, it is NOT the same. There is growing research about the harmful effects of spending too much time on screens, and the benefits of reading (paper) books. So, ideally, skip the e-reader too.

Do you really think spending hours each day posting selfies does as much good as reading? Even passive scrolling of others' selfies does little good. Put your phone down, and pick up a book!





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