Work On Your Wellness: Reading
Everyone experiences some physical and mental stress. Overexertion, illness, work and financial worries, and personal concerns are common causes of stress. Everyone needs to guard against high stress, because it does harm. Daily work-related pressures make it near impossible to eliminate stress altogether. But it is possible and necessary to reduce stress.
Reading is an accessible and effective way of dealing with stress. Books are not only sources of knowledge, they can be therapeutic. The term "bibliotherapy" refers to a therapeutic approach that uses select reading material and shared reading practices as therapy.
As research indicates, reading can promote wellness. Fiction can not only be engaging and enjoyable, it can help improve emotional stability and neurological function. Being engrossed in a book brings some respite from the everyday world and its worries and transports you to a different world. This not only relaxes the mind, it engages the imagination and can enhance creativity.
Literary fiction can help readers process emotions and develop empathy. Empathy helps improve interpersonal relations at work, home and in your social circle. Researchers have found that reading regularly can help slow cognitive decline and reduce the possibility of dementia. (Other mentally stimulating pursuits have also been found to have similar effects.)
Make Time to Read
Cultivating a habit of reading every day is ideal. It can help reduce daily stress build-up. Even a few minutes of reading instead of looking at your smartphone at bedtime every night can bring benefits. This not only offers a diversion from day-to-day workplace anxiety and the welter of thoughts in our minds, it helps you sleep better.
Most people have got into the habit of checking e-mail and social media feeds at bedtime. Research indicates that using a smartphone at bedtime can interfere with sleep. The light from the device can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that the brain is able to produce when it’s dark. Melatonin helps preserve normal timing of circadian rhythms, which in turn improves sleep quality and duration.
If you can’t make time to read every day, practice bedtime reading at least four to five times a week. It’s helpful to set a suitable goal of a number of hours a week.
Fast vs. Slow
When you read for relaxation or emotional wellness, it’s not necessary to read very fast. Reading at your own pace is fine if it helps to divert the mind, relieve stress and cultivate emotions. Speed reading is helpful when the purpose is to learn or gain knowledge fast.
Any individual can improve reading speed and comprehension with a bit of attention and focus. As with a lot of other activities, practice advances performance. If you read every day, your speed will likely improve. While speed improves with practice, it will bring benefits only if you comprehend better at the same time.
There are speed reading techniques that some use to improve reading speed. Most of those who employ these techniques are likely to be students who need to take in a lot of information and comprehend the same. There are online courses, software and live classes to suit learners in different circumstances.
If you want to assess your reading speed, there are online tests available. You can also take a manual test, using a stopwatch. For general readers, the pacing technique might prove helpful. This involves moving a marker across the page. For example, move the marker underneath the line you are reading. This helps one focus better and pace oneself.
It can be helpful, particularly when reading quickly, to give your eyes a rest every 20 minutes or so. This can protect against eyestrain.
Better Reading Comprehension
Good comprehension enables one to gain more knowledge and meaning from the text. Reading is effective when you understand what the author has tried to put across. This makes reading informative, helpful and enjoyable.
To comprehend or understand well, you need good vocabulary as well as comprehension skills. Vocabulary enables you to understand the language based on which you gain knowledge and develop awareness of the essence of the text. Comprehension skills can be developed with active reading and employing the right strategies.
Both vocabulary and comprehension skills will improve with practice. If you can’t read every day, aim to read a few hours a week. Find the right time and place to read, as free as possible from domestic and other disturbances.
Strategies many use to improve reading and comprehension ability include:
● Building vocabulary
● Minimizing distraction when reading
● Visualizing what is described in the book
● Pausing to think and ask yourself questions about the text
● Describe to someone else the main theme or idea of what you are reading
Give yourself to get improved results. Pace yourself by setting a realistic goal of a few hours a week, or one or two chapters a night.
What to Read?
There are plenty of resources that you can use to select the right book. But the first rule is to read what interests you. A book might be highly acclaimed, but if it’s not a genre you like, then it may not suit you.
On Goodreads, you can search for books based on genre, author, title and ISBN. Readers across the world review thousands of books on Goodreads. You will need to sign up to use the website. Other popular online sources include WhichBook, Penguin Classics, and Book Seer. It’s a good idea to spend some time browsing the web for handy resources.
Bestseller lists are not necessarily the best sources. A book can make it to these lists if the author is well know, or if a publisher has hyped or heavily promoted its release.
Many people rely on years of curation by organizations that give awards. You could look up the list of books authored by Nobel laureates, or read every book that has won a Pulitzer Prize. There are also special awards for certain genres of fiction, like the Hugo and Nebula prizes given to fantasy and science fiction novels.
Joining a book club is another good way to connect with like-minded people and discuss books that you enjoy. Other sources include libraries, friends and family, book stores and book fairs.
Let's Talk About Reading
Discussing what you are reading with friends in a book club, or in other social settings, can be beneficial in that it can help release emotions, engage with others, open up to other perspectives and develop social skills. Shared reading sessions can offer a temporary diversion from everyday problems and anxieties, and help participants connect with others and derive encouragement, understand how people deal with life situations and develop empathy.
Reading, contemplation, and book discussions are used in bibliotherapy to address mental health issues. There isn’t enough research yet to demonstrate the effectiveness of this therapy. Some researchers have reported, however, that reading and discussions with others can help improve cognitive functioning and emotional health.