Coping with Mental Illness: Reading

Throughout the younger years of my life, I have always loved reading. It has been a tool that I have previously used as a way to cope with my mental illness, however, over the past few years I have not read at all. I have only started reading again recently, and I cannot believe that I forgot how wonderful reading can be, as well as how much it can make it easier to deal with your mental illness.

The main reason I go to reading as a way to cope with my mental illness is the fact that it is most likely the least harmful form of escapism. The typical forms of escapism that I use are often somewhat harmful, such as using substances or taking obvious risks; but this time, I am using something that is beneficial to me and my well-being in more ways than one.

I have found that nothing gets me going quite like a good story. The satisfaction and happiness I feel whilst reading is something that I rarely get to experience, yet reading allows me to do just that. Reading can be a very introspective activity, it can provide a great understanding of emotions whilst teaching empathy and compassion. It allows you to observe the emotions and emotional behaviours of those within your story, with in turn, also teaches you how to observe your own emotions and behaviours, whilst making it easier to understand why you felt or behaved in such way. Reading allows you to think differently, whilst providing you with the ability to look at things from various perspectives; books are truly wonderful things.

The imagination and creativity that are involved with reading, almost brings your mind back to a childlike state; where it is completely receptive and open to everything going on around you, therefore teaching awareness in an extremely subtle manner. Not only are imagination and creativity involved in the activity of reading, but your ability to use them are also manifested and improved; therefore making you a more imaginative and creative person.

I have previously wrote about how music can be a great way to cope with and manage a mental illness, however, it is scientifically proven that reading can reduce stress even more so than music. Reading can reduce your levels of stress by up to 68%, which is incredible. It has also been scientifically proven that reading fiction improves our ethical and empathetic skills. Reading poetry specifically has the potential to boost your memory, and any form of reading also has the potential to make you more intelligent.

Now that we know that there is every reason we should be reading, it’s time to get some books. One of my favourite things about reading, is that you can read and become in possession of books fairly easily, and with little to no cost. Libraries are full of books that you can read at no cost, however, if you live somewhere where going to a library is not applicable, there are a few more options that you can consider. At some point in a persons life, they will most likely be in possession of at least one or more books, and most of them end up on a shelf never to be read again; and that’s why gaining books from friends and family is so great. You could either borrow a book from your friends or family, or perhaps they would even be willing to give you that book permanently; and it will not cost you a thing. Another option would be to read the books that are available for free online. There are many great books by talented authors that are available on the internet, so as long as you have an internet connection, you also have the opportunity to read thousands of books. If none of the previously mentioned options have taken your fancy, then you could always go to a book store, or an online book store, and buy some books. Nowadays, a lot of books are relatively cheap, and with the internet being so widely available you can make sure that you get the best price for your purchase. As there are now electronic devices that are dedicated to books and reading such as the Amazon Kindle, the books available for these devices are often a lot cheaper because they require no physical material and are obtained through downloading the book over the internet.

I hope this article has inspired at least one of you to pick up a book and start reading again, you’ll be very surprised by all the benefits of which it could bring.


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