It’s that time of the year again when many of us make half-hearted promises to change our bad habits: eat better, spend less, be nicer to annoying family members. For most of us, these attempts will peter out around January the 26th, and be a dim, distant memory by the time March rolls around. There are quite a few articles on why resolutions fail, with the most common reason being that people aren’t actually ready to make changes to their lives. They optimistically see the New Year as a time to reinvent themselves but deep down they’re not ready to put in the effort just yet. Also, eating salad and being nice to Uncle Know-It-All isn’t all that fun.
But do you know what actually is fun? Reading!
Instead of making the same old resolutions in 2020, why not resolve to read more? Reading for fun has many, many health benefits whilst also being enjoyable. Let’s break down the benefits you’ll get from picking up a good book instead of a gym membership this New Year.
Regular readers are less stressed and feel the effects of depression less than non-readers. Focussing on a plot and the characters of a book takes you away from your own troubles and makes you feel more at ease and relaxed.
Reading also stimulates the brain, keeping it active and engaged. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in July 2018 showed that reading can lessen the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and research for Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found elderly people who regularly read are two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. A 2013 study, published in the journal Neurology showed a 30% reduction in memory decline for elderly readers. There are so many things to remember when reading – a vast array of characters, plots and sub-plots, motivations and the history of the fictional world, and with each new memory, new synapses are forged in the brain.
A more expansive vocabulary is also a side effect of a comprehensive reading habit and you’ll be amazed at how often you find yourself learning new words and definitions. Your general knowledge can also increase, even if you read fiction. Sure, you may find yourself armed with the knowledge of how to murder someone seventeen different ways with a toothpick but who knows when that will crop up at the next quiz night?
Reading is also a great form of entertainment, lighting a fire in your imagination and keeping you occupied for hours. With your library card, it’s also FREE entertainment, and in this day and age, that’s sometimes hard to come by. Your focus and concentration also improve the more you read, rippling out to influence other areas of your daily life. In fact, reading for 15 minutes before work can improve your productivity as it narrows your focus, pushing away the billion and one other distractions we suffer from in our technologically busy lives.
So why not give it a try? A new year, new you, new book, and a new adventure.