Reading Can Calm the Nerves...Try It
Here you go: 7 Unconventional Reasons Why You Absolutely Should Be Reading Books
In a world of omnipresent screens, it can be easy to forget the simple pleasure of curling up with a good book. In fact, a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 28 percent hadn't read one at all in the past year.
But the truth is that reading books can be more than entertainment (or a high school English assignment). In fact, a study released earlier this month suggests that enjoying literature might help strengthen your "mind-reading" abilities. The research, published in the journal Science, showed that reading literary works (though, interestingly, not popular fiction) cultivates a skill known as "theory of mind," which NPR describes as the "ability to 'read' the thoughts and feelings of others."
And that's hardly the only way being a bookworm can boost your mind and well-being. Below, two more science-backed reasons to swap the remote for a novel. Read all seven here.
Reading can chill you out.
Stressed out? Pick up a paperback. Research conducted in 2009 at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress, beating out old favorites such as listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and even taking a walk, The Telegraph reported when the findings were released. It took the study participants just six minutes to relax (which was measured by evaluating heart rate and muscle tension) once they started turning pages.
Getting lost in a good book could also make you more empathetic.
According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE in January, losing yourself in a work of fiction might actually increase your empathy. Researchers in the Netherlands designed two experiments, which showed that people who were "emotionally transported" by a work of fiction experienced boosts in empathy.
"In two experimental studies, we were able to show that self-reported empathic skills significantly changed over the course of one week for readers of a fictional story by fiction authors Arthur Conan Doyle or José Saramago," they wrote in the findings. "More specifically, highly transported readers of Doyle became more empathic, while non-transported readers of both Doyle and Saramago became less empathic."
So go ahead, let yourself get caught up in a particularly compelling story, or swept away by a powerful character -- it's good for you!