Settling back against the inviting cushions of a comfy couch with your feet curled up under you and a mug of warm tea kissing your palms sounds like a great way to spend your free time. What could make this moment of relaxation even better? How about a good book? A story that helps you to disengage from the hustle and bustle of your life and escape into someone else’s for just a tiny bit of time. Maybe it’s a family drama, a spine-tingling thriller, or a memoir. Whatever your guilty pleasure may be, it doesn’t matter. It’s the act of reading that will soothe your soul and calm your spirit.
As a writer, I believe in the power of reading. I know, though, that finding the time to read even a few paragraphs can be challenging. While you may think that carving out time to read isn’t as important as scheduling other activities, nurturing this passion can actually improve your health.
Studies conducted in the scientific and medical communities have found that daily reading even for short periods of time can reduce the chances of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other memory-related conditions, improve focus and concentration, and reduce stress. Did you also know that reading can help you develop empathy and foster a tranquil existence?
Turn on the nightly news or scroll through your social media newsfeed and within moments I guarantee you’ll find examples of how judgmental and uncaring the human race can be. We’re used to getting one-sided information from the news media after a violent or disturbing incident. It’s also not uncommon for our friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers in the Starbucks line to offer an opinion about a situation they know little about.
As a human race, we’re born to be kind and generous. It is the rawness of life that hardens us. Reading and escaping into a different reality, learning why people make the choices they make in the face of adversity, helps us tear down the walls we’ve built around our empathetic feelings. Although we may not fully understand why people make the choices they make, compassionate readers are willing to listen.
There is a lot of talk about mental health conditioning these days. Whether it is practicing yoga, daily meditation, sipping a cup of sanity (aka coffee), or even taking a morning walk and listening to the birds, it seems we’re all looking for a way to get back to a calmer state of existence. Spending even ten minutes each day with a book can have a tremendous impact on your mental well-being and happiness.
I have a “car” book and a “tablet” book. My car book is usually a paperback or hardcover that I can easily stick in my purse and read when I am waiting for my daughter at dismissal. I keep my tablet book at home by my bedside for nighttime or early morning reading. I don’t always have the time for a marathon read, but finding just a few stolen moments to fall into someone else’s story relaxes my soul and rejuvenates my spirit. Think of reading like a facial for the mind.
So, the next time you’re feeling disconnected and wearied try connecting with the written word to find your way back to a peaceful, compassionate existence.
More About Piper
Piper is the author of the bestselling Amazon novel, The Waiting Room and the short story, Missing Girl. She is a Midwestern girl with a So-Cal soul and an NYC wardrobe. Piper seeks to explore the many levels of humanness in her tales to create characters that extend beyond the page. Sign up for Piper’s newsletter to get a FREE copy of Missing Girl.
Originally published at piperpunches.com on February 23, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com