Since I graduated college, I’ve read an obscene number of books. I immediately reach for a new book the moment I’ve finished the one I was reading. I have no regrets. By extension, these books have taken me into a new world that has no relation to my life, my day, what’s bothering me or what’s been on my mind. My compulsive reading has been the best form of self-care I could’ve asked for.
Just like everyone else’s, my life after graduation has been filled with uncertainty. I’m never comfortable enough to tell people my dreams nor confident enough to fully act on them. Books take me out of this overwhelming situation. As someone who has a hard time getting out of their own head, books help me do just that. I’m no longer focused on the minor inconveniences I’m facing because now I need to know who the victim and killer are in Lisa Jewell’s newest novel “Watching You”. Spoiler alert, this book was phenomenal.
I’m constantly baffled by people who don’t like reading. In some small way I get it- we’re forced from a young age to read for homework. As some people grow up the idea of reading is tainted and seen as the equivalent of more work. But how can anyone turn down the intoxicatingly dark stories woven by Gillian Flynn or the storybook romances thought up by K.A. Tucker? Those my friends, are not even close to anything you’d read for an assignment.
Reading a book is all consuming. If you pick the right one, you will be transported into a whole new world, rooting for the characters you love, wishing the worst for the ones you hate, and relishing every last word.
Research conducted by the University of Sussex showed that reading decreases stress levels by 68%. It also helps reduce your heart rate and release muscle tension. But most importantly reading is a hub of inspiration. It gives you insight to different places, people, things, jobs and much, much more.
With the sky rocketing importance placed on self-care over the last few years we’ve learned that self-care is preference based. It isn’t just about face masks and manicures, although those do help. But it’s about your mental health as well. Knowing when to take a break when you want to quit. It’s about giving your brain a chance to chill out while you wind down. Nothing will help you do that quite like a good book will.
Sure, reading can’t make your problems go away completely. But for a few short minutes or hours, they’re gone from your consciousness. It isn’t until you put down your book that those thoughts may drift back to you. By the time they do you would’ve been detached from the situation long enough to revisit each issue and tackle them all with a clear mind.
Since I’ve taken up my compulsive reading, I’ve been happier. Maybe you could chalk that up to trying to focus on my own writing or slowly opening up to friends more. But I know books have played a part in this new found happiness.
To anyone plagued by chronic overthinking and bouts of feeling overwhelmed, pick up a book. Start slow. Read whatever piques your interest. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine or iced tea and let your mind wander. You deserve it.
If you’re unsure of what book to start with, we’ve got you covered. Check out our list of books we’ve been loving here at Metiza!