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Reading as Self-Care: 6 Reasons Why Reading is Good for Your Cognitive Wellbeing

In 2021, GoPivot is doubling-down on our commitment to wellbeing. We’ve outlined this commitment in our 8 Dimensions of Self-Care and are kicking off the New Year by focusing on Cognitive wellness.

Reading is a tried-and-true method of Cognitive self-care that rewards you personally, professionally, and even physically. Below, we’ve outlined our top six reasons why you should spend time reading every day.

1. Knowledge 

Reading both non-fiction and fiction prose increases your basis of knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle everyday challenges. Increasing one’s knowledge provides social, professional, and academic tools and helps with critical thinking, memory, and problem-solving.

2. Mental Exercise

Like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy. Keeping mentally active can slow (or even prevent) the progress of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Research has found that elderly patients who read books are 2.5x less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Studies also show that it’s never too late to pick up a book – no matter when subjects began reading or practicing similarly engaging activities, there was a slower rate of decline either way.

3. Stress Reduction

Reading works more quickly and effectively than other relaxation methods, including listening to music or going for a walk. A study conducted by the University of Sussex in 2009 showed that after only six minutes of reading a book reduced subjects’ stress levels by 68%!

How does reading reduce stress? Reading allows your mind to focus and concentrate, which pulls us away from more stress-provoking thoughts.

By suspending reality, readers escape into an altered state of consciousness, which alleviates tension in the muscles and heart. And, genre doesn’t matter – the relaxing effect produced by reading works as long as you can lose yourself in the narrative.

4. Improved Vocabulary 

The more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary.

Being articulate and well-spoken allows you to speak to colleagues and friends with confidence can be an enormous boost to your self-esteem. It could even help with your career.

5. Enhanced Focus and Concentration

The modern world lends itself to multi-tasking. In a single 10-minute span, the average person might divide their time between working on a task, checking their email and phone, chatting or keeping an eye on Twitter, and interacting with co-workers. This type of behavior increases stress levels and lowers productivity.

When you read a book, all of your attention focuses on the topic at hand, and you can immerse yourself in every detail you’re absorbing. Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work – you’ll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.

6. Entertainment

Take a break from Netflix! For low-budget entertainment, you can visit your local library and enjoy books on every subject. Many libraries also allow access to books in a digital format so you can read them on your e-reader, iPad, or your computer screen.

There are also many sources online where you can download free e-books, so go hunting for something new to read!