If you’re reading this right now, know that literacy is one of your greatest privileges. The ability to read, reflect on what you’ve read, and share it with others, is an important skill that will serve you for your entire life. That is, of course, if you continue to use it.
Whether it’s books, articles, studies – or whatever else captures your interest – reading is beneficial to you in several ways. In this issue of the Pulse, we cover why you should be reading every single day, and how you can build that habit.
The emotional benefits of reading.
Reading is more than just a hobby or pastime. It has the power to impact your mood, health, and career success.
Adding reading to your daily routine – even in short doses – can boost you emotionally in the following ways:
- Reading allows for escapism – this might sound cynical, but sometimes we all need a small mental break. Reading gives your mind space away from whatever is going on in real life, to be entertained and decompress.
- Reading motivates – especially through reading fiction, memoirs, poetry, and other inspirational genres, reading can motivate us to work harder, overcome obstacles, and step outside our comfort zones.
- Reading activates empathy – reading takes us outside ourselves and allows us to think from others’ points of view, building our capacity for empathy, a crucial quality in many areas of life.
- Reading is a tool for mental health – some experts believe reading can help combat symptoms of depression, such as isolation and loneliness.
- Reading fosters perseverance – reading, specifically finishing books, teaches us to push through to complete our goals, feel accomplished at milestones or checkpoints, and follow through on commitments.
The physiological benefits of reading.
Reading is food for your brain that nourishes your entire body. There are several ways reading is good for your physiological health:
- Reading is a cognitive exercise – it challenges your brain to intake and process information, then recall it later, sharpening your memory function.
- Reading helps your sleep cycle – the destressing and calming function of reading is a great way to transition from the business of your day into the right headspace to get some sleep. Next time you’re stuck awake, try reading just a single chapter.
- Reading reduces stress – as previously mentioned, the escapist function of reading reduces stress, lowering heart rate, blood pressure, and overall, contributing to better physical health.
- Reading can combat cognitive decline – as we age, it’s important to adopt habits to keep our brains active. Reading is just one great strategy.
The career benefits of reading.
An avid reader has an advantage, no matter what their field of work. If you’re looking for an easy route to self-improvement, sharpening skills, and giving you an edge up in the job market, reading more is an easy strategy.
Reading can give you the following career advantages:
- Reading improves concentration and focus – if you’re someone who struggles with concentration and focus, no matter the reason, reading can be a good skill to train your brain. Even if you’re practicing focusing on the small details for only short bursts, it’s still beneficial to your performance in other areas of your life.
- Reading improves your literacy – by encountering new words, phrases, and sentence structures, reading can improve your vocabulary and understanding, thus boosting your overall literacy. Your literacy will aid in your communication skills, both written and verbal.
- You learn when you read – whatever you’re reading, chances are you’re going to learn something new at some point. Diversifying your reading will help you build a wide bank of knowledge to draw from in real life situations. You can take this a step further by seeking out materials on relevant topics to your career.
- Reading enhances your imagination – many jobs value innovation, creativity, and original approaches to problem solving. Reading helps you foster that part of your mind.
- Reading boosts your analytical skills – analytical, critical thinkers tend to be better decision makers. This is important, especially if you’re in a leadership position.
How you can read more.
If you’re sold on the benefits of regular reading, but unsure of how to incorporate it into your daily routine, there are steps you can take to implement the habit:
- Always have a book on hand – keep it in your desk, your car, your bag, wherever. If there’s always a book on hand, you’ll be able to fill empty space in your schedule, such as time spent in a waiting room, with reading.
- Make manageable goals – instead of taking on War and Peace this month, maybe start with 20 pages a day, and adjust as that goal becomes easier.
- Don’t waste time on something you don’t enjoy – if you’re a hundred pages into a novel you’re hating, it’s easy to become stuck. Better to put the book down in favor of one you enjoy, than avoiding reading altogether.
- Read what you like, not what you feel like you should read – you’re going to hear a lot of opinions from a lot of people on what you should be reading. The most important thing is to read what will keep you reading. If that’s a book on entrepreneurship, great! If not, the only thing that matters is that you’re engaged.
Our ability to read, and access to reading materials, is one of life’s greatest gifts. Not only can reading have a positive impact on your mood and health, but it gives you a leg up in your career as well.
At Schooley Mitchell, we have always believed in reading a business book each month; but in general, any way to incorporate more reading into your regular life will only stand to benefit you.