Bookshops, reading and your mental health

Whether you read by yourself or in a group, there is great pleasure in finding connection and meaning in a good story allowing your mental health to get a positive boost. Reading supports your mental wellness by giving you the opportunity to slow down and be present within the story – a welcome escape from moments of anxious overthinking.

Saturday 8 October is Love Your Bookshop day and a great opportunity to make time to indulge in an hour or two of mindful reading.

When you are busy with daily life, the last thing you may feel like doing is making time for reading. However, just half an hour tucked into your favourite chair with a good book can be just what you need to recharge those batteries.

The University of Sussex studies showed that reading for even as little as six minutes a day can improve your sleep quality and sharpen mental ability. That same study also showed that reading can reduce your stress level by up to 68%.

As a good story stays with you long after finishing a book so too do the mental health benefits, including the improvement in your quality of life. A study on reading and life longevity showed that those who read books regularly increased their lifespan by 20% compared to those who never read.

Reading further improves your mental wellbeing by increasing your ability to empathise and engage with diverse stories outside of your own lived experiences. This often leads toa greater sense of human connection, empathy, stronger relationships and shared understanding.

The characters you read about allows you a glimpse into their different lives and situations. Your understanding of what they are thinking and feeling improves to equip you with empathy and social acumen of what others in your life may be experiencing. As a result, reading can help you identify with others in such situations with similar experiences or challenges.

When you read, your mind is taken on a journey into another world. You allow yourself to become immersed in the story and feel like you are part of that new world. As you become further immersed into a story, it serves you more and enhances your sense of wellbeing. By mentally transporting yourself away to another world provides a healthy escape and opportunity for meaningful reflection.

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