Let’s Talk Bookish – 23rd April – Reading and Mental Health

APRIL 23: HOW READING AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH (SUGGESTED BY KRISTIN @ LUKTEN AV TRYKKSVERTE)

Prompts: In what ways does reading affect your mental health? Does it affect your mental health positively or negatively at certain times, and why? How do you find a balance to keep up with reading while being mindful of your mental health? Do triggers, bookish controversies, and things like that affect your health a lot more than you let on?

I feel like many of us in the book community suffer in one way with a diagnosed mental health issue (myself included); although 1 in 4 people will experience trouble with their mental health in any given year, I feel like I see a lot more of it in our community. Why is this? Is it just we are more open about it? Are mental health issues on the rise or are they just being recognised and diagnosed more? I really don’t have the answer for this, it’s just my observation.

With regards to the impact of my reading on my own mental health, reading has been a double edged sword.

My journey back into reading went like this: in summer 2018, after having lived in a new city for 2 years, I realised I didn’t really have any friends outside my partner and work so I joined a local book club. The following Easter, I spent the whole sunny weekend in my deck chair in the garden and devoured 3 books – the most I had read in a very long time. And since then, I’ve just kept reading! Before this, I found myself wallowing each night on the sofa, mindlessly watching TV. After a stressful day, reading enables me to be more mindful as it grounds me in the moment and the story I’m so heavily invested in. It really does help me escape from the daily grind.

I also enjoy reading books about mental health. Non fiction is a genre I rarely used to read and now I really enjoy it! Reading some books, particularly about anxiety, have really helped me get to grips with my own struggles.

There does feel like a lot of pressure though, especially with trying to keep up with a blog. I try not to look at stats because I always compare myself to others and that is incredibly detrimental to my wellbeing. I will use it as a stick to beat myself with, rather than feeling inspired and motivated. I often feel like I’m missing out as I’m not reading the latest books that everyone is talking about. I also love taking part on blog tours and I’ve read some amazing books through them as a result. Yet, I sometimes sign up to too much; there’s so many appealing books but also I feel really responsible if there’s a tour struggling for stops that I’m not on, even if this really isn’t anything to do with me! I like to help people in need, but I’ve realised I really do need to look after myself too, especially as my job is very challenging and emotionally draining at times.

And the end of the day, I need to always come back to the reason why I read. I don’t read for other people. I don’t read to be trendy. I don’t even read because I have a blog, I blog because I read! And I read to think, relax and have fun. Whenever I feel like bookish things are getting on top of me, I always come back to this.

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