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How reading can improve your mental wellbeing

By BzBarlow 10 Mar 2021

Now more than ever, it's incredibly important to take some time out for yourself, detach from your surroundings and chill out. The lockdown can play a big part in your mental health so it's vital you take the necessary steps to look after yourself the best you can.

There are lots of things you can do such as exercise, yoga, baking or gardening but reading a book also has lots of benefits. 

How can reading help your mental health?

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It's proven to reduce stress levels
Stress can lead to other problems such as anxiety and heart problems. According to a 2009 study by the University of Sussex, reading can help reduce stress by up to 68%! 

It's proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate
When your brain is engaged in a story, your muscles relax and your heart rate slows down. You automatically breathe slower when you're reading and that slows the heart rate down, making you feel calmer. 

It helps you to sleep
Reading before bed can help to improve your readiness for a good night's sleep. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have recommended reading as part of your regular sleeping routine. Be sure to avoid books on screens as the brightness can lead to other health issues and can also keep you awake.

It stimulates the mind
Keeping your brain active is one way of reducing the risks of Alzheimer's and Dementia. In addition, you may be contributing unknowingly to the decline of your brain by not challenging it, and that's where reading can help. Not to mention that stimulating the brain will also shelve feelings of stress and anxiety by giving it a workout.

Can fight symptoms of depression
Reading fiction books can help you to temporarily escape your own world and become immersed in an imaginary world of the lives of the characters, which helps you to detach. Non-fiction books can also play their part: The NHS have a book on a prescription programme called Reading Well where people are prescribed self-help books by medical experts.

Best releases of 2021

Are you stuck with what book to read? Well, there are plenty of books that are hot off the press which have received rave reviews. Here are just a few that we think you should give a go...

Influence
From the author of Pretty Little Liars comes this story which follows a group of girls who seem to be living the social media dream, but as you scratch deeper you see that everyone has something to hide that would ruin their reputation.

Amazon - £6.49

Detransition, Baby
Reese had everything she could have dreamed of except a child, and then her girlfriend Amy detransitioned back to Ames. Everything was lost, but when Ames and his new lover Katrina find out that they are expecting a baby, could this potentially open up the chance for all 3 of them to raise a baby together? 

Amazon - £11.75

The Four Winds
Elsa has a family and owns a farm in Texas, but when a drought threatens all that they've worked for, her husband flees. She now faces the decision to fight for the land she holds dear, or take her children to safety. 
Amazon - £12.48

The Charmed Wife
We all love a fairytale don't we? But what if the ending wasn't so fairytale? Cinderella married the man of her dreams, but 13 years down the line and with two children life isn't so rosy. How will it really end?
Amazon - £7.37

Support links 

If you find yourself struggling with your mental health, please take a look at the links below where support can be offered...

Mind - Phone 0300 123 3393 or email info@mind.org.uk

Samaritans - Call 116 123 or email jo@smaritans.org

Young Minds - Text  85258.

Or alternatively talk to a member of the university team who will be able to offer full, confidential support.

BzBarlow profile picture

BzBarlow part of the Browzer team and loves to bake.
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