Squats for your BRAIN
with Laura (Wellbeing Consultant) from It’s a Playground @itsaplayground
Before I go on to tell you about how reading is brilliant and you should do it as much as possible, I have a confession to make.
Until this year, I don’t think I had read a whole book through-and-through since I left high school (a long time ago). So before you start thinking “oh no, I don’t do books”, hear me out!
On the other hand, if you are a committed, avid reader…then keep up the good work and read on to hear about just how epic a thing you are doing for yourself!
So, a little about me…I am pretty much constantly thinking about new stuff to do to help keep my mind and body fit (without too much effort or breaking the budget)!
And SHOCK HORROR – reading has come to mind.
I’ve always had a feeling that I was more knowledgeable when I read, but alas, I never did it. I chose, instead, to binge watch Netflix series in the evening, and right before bed I tend to just go on Facebook or something else on my phone (which is TERRIBLE for my beauty sleep).
All this has now changed (well, kind of). I have still already binge watched the new Stranger Things series…but now, I also find the time to get some reading in too. And so can you!
LOOK, I could just tell you: YES, science says READING IS GOOD FOR YOU!
But, if you’re like me, you need to know a little bit of the WHY to be convinced. Thanks to a bunch of researchers for doing a load of studies and to the Reading Agency for doing their own review of the info, we can see some clear and glorious points stand out above the rest, that speak to way more than just academic gain.
1. It helps COMBAT DEPRESSION (there is a strong relationship between reading more and having less depressive symptoms
2. It helps keep your HEALTH IN CHECK (people with lower literacy skills are more likely to experience poor health and it’s also been suggested that it can help lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia).
3. It helps REDUCE STRESS and IMPROVE FOCUS and SLEEP! *Heads up! – reading a BOOK is better at promoting good sleep than reading your Kindle, but reading your Kindle is probably better than reading on a computer and/or iPad (this is due to the amount of blue light that the gadget gives out).
4 . It helps keep your BRAIN AGILE and could help protect it as we get older.
In addition to that, the research showed that folks who read more…
5. Are HAPPIER
6. Are more likely to be SATISFIED WITH LIFE and are more likely to do things that are worth while WITH their life!
7. Have HIGHER LEVELS OF EMPATHY which (in turn) has been shown to IMPROVE RELATIONSHIPS and allow people to have deeper and more meaningful bonds with others.
NOW FOR THE BEST BIT (according to me)…
8. By entering into the world of reading (more specifically the FICTION reading world), we can enter the world and mind of different people, in different circumstances to our own. Our brain tricks itself into believing that it’s doing something it’s not! This has implications for cultural acceptance, inclusivity, improvements in relationships and actually means that by reading fiction we can refine our brain function!
If those 8 reasons don’t convince you, then take a further read into the research, the benefits are too glorious to ignore!
Tips on how to fit some Brain Squats into your day
So, we’ve established that reading will help beef up your mind muscle.
Now that we’re convinced that it will not just help your mental health (reduce stress, depressive symptoms, sleep etc) but it could actually kinda help you be a “better” person (aka more empathetic, open and understanding)…
Let’s get into some tips on how to fit in this reading time when you’re schedule is already super CHOCKER BLOCKED!
1. Read on the tube (any public transport will do)
For many people, reading is something that only gets the time of day on the weekends or holidays (if that). Let’s step that up a notch.
If you have a trip to work that’s longer than your lunch break, STOP complaining about the commute time and use the time to wrap your head in a world of imagination on your journey! It’ll help keep your mind calm and feed your brain with goodness.
2. Challenge yourself to a few pages a night before bed
Put your phone away from your bed at night so you’re not tempted to look at it and put a book on your bedside instead. Read just a few pages before you go to sleep. You don’t have to commit to a hectic amount (although if you do find a fabulous book you may just get addicted and get through a few chapters).
3. Keep a book/ kindle in your bag (if it’s a biggie, get yourself a backpack, if you haven’t already)
If it’s on hand, you can pull it out at your hair appointment or while you’re waiting for a friend at a cafe. I know it may seem silly to carry it around, but you’ll be surprised how many chances you’ll get to read it if you do. We automatically go straight to our phone when we have a couple of minutes free time, swap some of that time for the book.
4. Leave your computer at lunch
I’d generally recommend going for a walk/ exercise, socialising with colleagues and mindful eating at lunch. But as the cooler weather comes in, you may fancy some time out of the cold to chill out on your break. If you do, get that book out!
5. Get your partner into it!
Shoot them this article to read or just take over the convo one date night with fun facts about how reading is good for your mind. (Look, it may not seem like the sexiest conversation in the world, but your healthy bodies and minds down the track will be!) It’ll give you guys something else to chat about and could help get to know each other deeper. If you share a bed at night, both getting into the sheets earlier to get a few pages read before bed will be much easier if you’re both doing it!
Now for my favourite and most amazing tip (according to me)….
6. START A FRIGGIN’ BOOK CLUB!
Coming together with friends and having a topic of conversation already pre-prepared can be a great way to ease into new friendships, develop the older ones and also relieve host stress (the “oh no, what if there is awkward silence type”).
Being a part of a bookclub or having another friend read the same book with you is always more fun (as you can chat about it after) and can keep you on track! Just like exercising, it’s easier to keep on track with reading with a friend to motivate you.
So after you’re done filling up your life with fabulous ithestylist reviewed goodies, go and dust off that book you bought last summer and crack it open!
Spread the love…share this science with your friends and family! Why not give them a book for Christmas and make sure they know why.
Click here to get the The Reading Agency website for more amazing reading info and if you want any more info about the stuff I’ve talked about today you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org