When was the last time you read an actual book or a serious magazine article? Let’s face it. Most of our reading is centered around social media these days and many of us spend a lot of time watching TV. Myself included. I do love reading and learning though. And I know that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But whether reading comes easy or not, it has some really surprising benefits for everyone. Here are 10 ways in which you benefit from reading.
1. Brain Exercise
This may be surprising, but studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of or possibly even prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia! Keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Your brain is like a muscle. It requires exercise to keep strong and healthy. People who read a lot are much less likely to develop brain diseases. “Use it or lose it” literally applies to your brain activity. MRI scans have even proven that reading increases brain activity for several days afterwards.
2. Your Stress Level Benefits from Reading
We all suffer from stress. It can be caused at work, in a relationship, from personal difficulties. And even from all the social media we use. But no matter why you feel stressed, it will slip away when you lose yourself in a great story. A good book can carry you into another world. An informative and engaging article will distract you. Reading helps you calm down and relax and get rid of any tensions you were feeling. Just 30 minutes of reading lowers your blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga.
3. More Knowledge
Everything you read fills your head with new information. And you never know when it might come in handy. The more you know, the better you are able to handle the challenges of life. Your knowledge will help you understand things better and help you both in your personal life and at work. And not to sound negative here, but even if you were to lose your job of money or possessions – your knowledge can not be taken away from you.
4. Your Vocabulary Benefits from Reading
The more you read, the more words you get to know. Is that important? Yes, because a greater vocabulary will help you express yourself better and easier. And it will help you understand others, which benefits you in personal or professional relationships. Being articulate and well-spoken is beneficial in any profession. Knowing that you can confidently talk with other people, including managers and strangers can really boost your self-esteem. It can also benefit your career. Those who are well-read, well-spoken, and have a lot of knowledge get promotions more quickly and more often than those with smaller vocabularies and lack of knowledge. Knowing about new literature, scientific breakthroughs, and global events will basically make you smarter.
Reading is also vital for learning a new language. Learning and practicing a new language will stimulate your brain even more than regular reading. And reading is the only way to learn new words. Click here if you want to start a new language course for free.
5. Your Memory Benefits from Reading
When you read a book, you have to remember a lot of what’s going on. Characters, backgrounds, ambitions, history and more. But your brain is more than capable and can easily remember such things. What is amazing is that every new memory you create creates new synapses (pathways) in your brain and makes existing ones stronger. It does not matter whether the things you read about are real or not. These new and stronger pathways improve your short-term memory and can even stabilize your mood. Isn’t that amazing?
6. Better Thinking Skills
Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? That means that you were using critical and analytical thinking abilities. You took note of all the details provided and sorted out what was going on. Reading benefits your analytical skills. And that ability will help you in daily life just as well. It also helps you understand global events, news and science articles better.
7. More Focus and Concentration
I don’t mean to talk about social media again. But it has been proven that social media does not just distract us from whatever we are doing but also negatively impacts our ability to focus and concentrate. Attention is drawn in a hundred different directions at once as we are multi-tasking our way through the day. This lowers our productivity very much. When you put your phone away and on silent mode or even put it in another room (feeling anxious just thinking about it?) and pick up a book, your attention is focused on the story. All the distractions fall away. If you read 15-20 minutes before work you will benefit from a greater focus throughout your entire day. Awesone, right?
8. Writing Skills Benefits
Like I said before, reading benefits your vocabulary. The same is true for your writing skills. You will get better at expressing yourself in writing when you read a lot. It goes hand in hand. So your letter and e-mails will improve and be more clear to others. You will not have to explain things several times anymore. And you will feel more confident about putting your words into writing.
9. Your Empathy Benefits from Reading
People who read stories about the inner lives of characters show a heightened ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of other people. Not just while reading, but in real life too. The ability to show empathy increases and that greatly benefits you in building, navigating, and maintaining social relationships. But developing this skill requires dedication to reading more.
10. Live Long and Prosper
While preparing this article, I read a long-term study published by Oxford University Press. They followed a group of 3,635 adults for a period of 12 years. Believe it or not, but those who read books lived around 2 years longer than those who didn’t read at all or only read magazines and social media. The study concluded that people who read several times a week are 23 percent likely to live longer than those who do not read at all. The study did not go into reasons why this may be. Could it be because these readers have more knowledge, better relationships, less stress, stronger brain activity? Whatever the reason: reading literally benefits your life.
What to Read?
You can basically read whatever you can. If you’re pressed for time, take a few minutes twice a day to read a blog or magazine article. If you set aside more time, get yourself a book. Fiction will take you to different lives and worlds. Travel books will take you on a trip. Science books may blow your mind. (No worries, reading has no literal negative explosive effect on your mind.) Ask your friends which books they liked. Or check out my Instagram. I post about the books I read regularly. Don’t read only on your phone or tablet though. Take an actual printed book. People who read actual books score higher on comprehension tests and remember more of what they read than people who read exactly the same text on their mobile devices.
So no more binge-watching on a rainy day? There’s nothing wrong with watching an entire series from start to end on a rainy day or weekend. But it is best not to have it as your main source of intellectual stimulation. So find a good book. Start reading. And let me know how you like it or share your suggestions with me. Speaking of binge-watching on a rainy day, here are 10 things to do at home when you can’t go out.