reading & anxiety

Anxiety is a pain in the ass. It is the embodiment of a fly buzzing around you that you just cannot swat. It is hard to deal with and is extremely overwhelming and damaging. Overall, it is just a powerful negative influence over everybody that suffers from it, and coping with it can be a serious challenge.

For those that don't understand anxiety, the website Mind has a lot of useful info for you to expand your knowledge. It also has a range of useful contacts and advice for anyone who is struggling with anxiety (you're amazing, keep going!!!)

Trying to control/manage anxiety can be a real struggle, and it is difficult to find something that works. However, I am here to discuss how reading has helped me through my journey and the benefits of picking up a book.
  1.  Reading allows me to escape reality. It gives me a break from my own experiences and lets me go to a different, mainly better world. At the times in my life that are really stressful, having that time away from what is actually going on helps me so much. Escapism is one of the most useful things when you are struggling, and although it won't get rid of the problem it will keep you calm enough to try and tackle it.
  2. I find it to be a useful form of meditation. It reduces my overall stress levels by calming me down, therefore helping to manage my anxiety. Studies show that reading for 6 minutes can help reduce stress levels by up to 60%. It changes my state of mind in that moment and helps me to relieve tensions.
  3. It helps me feel connected to other people when I don't have the ability to connect to people in real life. It allows me to relate to other people and their situations (especially when I am reading a book where the main character suffers from anxiety) and also increases my compassion and empathy towards other people. According to the bibliography, reading allows you to help fictional characters through their issues which can reflect onto you working through your own problems.
  4. Scientifically, studies show that reading can relax your body by lowering your heart rate as well as easing tension in your muscles. It also enhances connectivity in the brain as well as improving brain function.
Reading, like doing anything else whilst dealing with severe anxiety, can be difficult, so I also have some tips for reading whilst you're anxious.
  • Choose a book that you will enjoy. Who cares if no one else is reading it, find a book that captures your interest and will allow you to relax.
  • It will only help reduce stress if you don't read a stressful book. Pick up something light and not too harrowing (of course, if you believe grounding yourself with more heavy topics will help you then you do you).
  • Don't rush. Whether or not you can only read a portion in five minutes or you've got five hours, the book is there for you to read when you're ready. If you try to rush yourself or give yourself a target amount of books to read you will probably feel much more stress.
  • Make time for yourself (whether or not you are going to read or not, this applies in general). Give yourself time to take a break, sit alone and let yourself relax. Dealing with things all the time is damaging, so make sure you give yourself some form of escapism.
Although reading isn't a cure for anxiety, it can help you manage your mental health much better. Coping is not easy at all, however having a book alongside you may make the fight a little bit easier.

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  1. I love stories. I really want to start reading more. Great post.


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