According to a June report on leisure activities from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people ages 15-54 read just 10 minutes or less a day. The most common leisure activity — watching TV — accounted for half of all leisure time at 2.8 hours a day, the report stated.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against watching TV every now and then. Sometimes it’s easier to turn on the tube when you need a distraction, rather than to try to focus on a book.
But whenever I can, I strive to pick up a book in my spare time rather than reaching for the remote. Not only are books typically more engaging for the mind, but they also provide countless other benefits to your mental and emotional health.
So, if you’re looking for a reason to pick up your next great read, here are a few of my favorites.
1. Improve your memory.
This is a no-brainer, but exercising your mind by reading is a great way to keep your memory strong. Research published by the American Academy of Neurology states that performing mind-stimulating activities like reading is associated with slower cognitive decline later in life.
That being said, waiting until old age to start reading for fun isn’t the way to go. Mental stimulation across the lifespan is key to reaping the most long-term benefits, the research states.
2. Cut down on stress.
According to a study done at the University of Sussex, reading can reduce stress levels by 68 percent, even after short periods. In fact, the researchers found that reading was better at lowering stress levels than even listening to music, having a cup of tea or going for a walk.
I speak from personal experience when I say that reading can be a great stress reliever. If you allow yourself to become fully immersed in a book, worrisome thoughts tend to fade into the background, at least for a little while.
3. Increase empathy and emotional intelligence.
Numerous studies have identified a link between reading fiction and increased empathy. If you read often, you know that books have the power to transport the mind, giving you the chance to see life from another perspective.
And the more you read, the more perspectives you’ll encounter. Being exposed to these different viewpoints leads to more understanding and compassion for people you meet in real life, which can greatly improve your relationships.
There are dozens of other benefits that could be listed, but these are three of my biggest motivators for reading. Do you have any others? Share them with me at [email protected]