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How To Develop a Habit of Reading to Support Your Mental Health

Reading has a multitude of benefits on your mental health, including decreasing occasional stress and helping your mind enter a meditative state. Books can also improve empathy, build social awareness, increase attention span, enhance memory, and support cognition. If you’re looking for a self-care activity that helps you cope and de-stress, developing a reading habit can have a positive impact on your overall well-being.  

Tips for Making Reading a Daily Habit

Starting a new healthy habit can be challenging, especially when it requires your time and focus. However, the benefits of reading make it well worth the effort. There are several ways you can encourage yourself to make reading part of your daily routine.

Consider Your Goals

Reflect on why you wanted to start reading more in the first place. Maybe you want to engage in more self-care activities that improve your mental health or learn more about a specific topic. Did you enjoy reading as a child but now struggle to make time for books? Remembering your “why” will help you stay on track as you aim to read more regularly.

Start With an Easy Read

Consider starting with a book that is engaging and easy to read. While Shakespeare or Charles Dickens may be on your list of favorite authors, you’ll likely be more successful in building a habit if you begin with a light and breezy book that won’t make you feel like you’re back in college.

Try Short Stories

Long novels aren’t your only option for daily reading. Short stories often range between 1,500 and 7,500 words and are easy to finish in one setting. It can feel more rewarding to complete the story, encouraging you to continue the habit.

Aim for 30 Minutes a Day

One 2016 study showed that reading an average of 30 minutes a day decreases a person’s mortality rate and is linked to a longer life. While many people aim to read for longer periods, such as one or two hours a day, 30 minutes is a great place to start. For most books, you can complete one chapter in 30 minutes.  

Replace TV Time With Books

Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Americans aged 15 years and older spend an average of 2 hours and 46 minutes a day watching TV, which is more than half of the time spent on leisure activities. If you watched one less TV episode, you would gain 30 to 45 minutes of reading time.

Find the Ideal Time

Identify the time of day that is the easiest and most enjoyable for reading. If you have a busy schedule and active children, it might be difficult to read in the middle of the day. Many people find the most success in reading first thing in the morning before everyone else is awake. Instead of checking your emails or catching up on social media in bed, start your day with a good book.

Reading before bed is another great way to start the habit. However, reading is a very relaxing activity and you might find it difficult to stay awake. While this is a great way to fall asleep at night, you might struggle to make progress.

Read With a Friend

Nothing is worse than reading a good book and having no one to talk about it with. Joining a book club or choosing a book with a friend provides accountability on your reading journey and makes the process more fun.

Try an E-Reader or Audiobook

E-readers and audiobooks are great options if you’re struggling to find time for reading or like to take your books on the go. However, avoid reading books on a tablet that emits blue light. E-ink readers are ideal as they look like paper books and don’t strain your eyes or prevent sleep.

Reading helps you do more than pass the time, it’s an activity that benefits your mental health and physical well-being. Start a habit of reading every day to decrease occasional stress and support a healthy mind.    

Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.

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