Do this one thing – make time to read! Actual proper books that you can hold and turn pages. We interact so much with screens these days – reading is massively beneficial in so many ways. It boosts critical thinking skills, wellbeing, empathy and so much more.
I read several books each week – every day before sleep but also sometimes whole Sunday afternoons stretched out on the sofa or during my regular commutes into London. Here are some of the big benefits of reading:
Reading fiction increases critical thinking skills – Research out of the University of Toronto highlights the fact that, while those who read factual books and essays are equally efficient at learning subject matter, fiction readers are better equipped to think AROUND subject matter, and problem-solve accordingly.
Reading literary fiction increases empathy skills – Although general fiction reading is linked to increased empathy skills, according to a series of 5 studies in New York, reading literary fiction specifically shows the greatest difference in this area. Literary fiction tends towards character psychology and relationships, which results in deeper psychological awareness in the real world. We get to know a character in all its complexity and this can help boost understanding in all of our relationships.
Reading books can help you to live longer – Researchers from Yale have drawn a direct link between those who read books specifically for 30 minutes each day and increased lifespan. The study found no such link between magazine readers and longevity. It is believed that the cognitive engagement required to pick up a book where you left off, combined with brain activity related to increased vocabulary, thinking skills, concentration, social perception and emotional intelligence, all add up to a longer life.
Reading books can make you more productive – How long do you stay on task these days? Most of us flit around, interrupting a work task to check emails, answer the phone, chat to colleagues, monitor our smart phone, maybe keep an eye on our social media notifications. These things might make us seem and feel more “busy” but they certainly don’t make us more productive. Reading a book demands our attention in an all-consuming way. Once ensconced in a good story we lose sight of the rest of the world – we become immersed. Reading for as little as 20 minutes before we start work can actually set our pattern for the day and make us much more productive. Give it a try!
Reading reduces stress – Reading can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles. A study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%