Reading as Therapy

reading as therapy

Reading as Therapy

One sure sign that my clients are stressed, is that they have lost their ability to read. They tell me about a lack of focus, of not being able to sit still with a book and get into it. Not only is this a very tangible warning sign for me, but it also means that they have lost access to something that can not only relax, but distract.

If there’s one thing I always wanted to instil within my own children, it was a love of reading. I see reading as excellent self-care. Reading can transport you away from the stress and anxieties of daily life. With a good book, this can even happen within a couple of pages. For many, reading can be more accessible than meditation.  It may not produce those alpha or even theta brainwaves that are linked with meditation, but it has many benefits.

There are countless numbers of universes waiting to be discovered, all just by opening a book.

Too Stressed To Read?

too stressed to readFirst, just notice that very fact is telling you that something is wrong, and perhaps it’s time to do something about it. Is something in particular bothering you? Or are your anxiety levels just high all round? You can take action over a particular issues, talk it through with a friend or colleague, or up your levels of self-care and relaxing activities. If it feels too much, then talking it through with a counsellor, like myself, should help.

Nevertheless, perhaps there is some way you can still get some joy and relaxation out of reading. One idea is to swap books for nespapers or magazines, perhaps. Sometimes, this can work well. However, do be careful about what you read. Newspapers are often full of stories of death, tragedy and disaster, which may not be helpful at all.

Magazines can be more of an escape, but again do be careful. You will often see a lot of advertisers and journalists setting impossible standards. We are told to buy this, to look like this, to dress our homes like this. It’s often another pressure in our already pressured lives. Even if you think you’re immune, it can creep under your skin without you knowing.

Another idea is to change your genre. Perhaps you can’t cope with your usual modern classic at the moment, but you may be able to plough through a page-turning thriller or historical romance? Above all, I recomend Audible for my clients who are having a problem focusing on reading a book. It can be lovely being read to before you go to sleep at night. You can pass time on long journeys, and dip in while you are walking the dog. If you belong to a library, they have their own version too

Getting into the Habit

If you’d like to add reading to your self-care, it really helps to make it a ritual. Where could you read? In bed on a Sunday morning, or last thing at night?  In the bath?

The commute, of course, is another great time. Even if you don’t commute, you can use that same time to pick up a book. It’s about developing the reading habit and seeing how much enjoyment we can get.

You can even listen to Audible and combine it with getting some exercise on a walk or run!

Benefits of reading as self-care

The benefits of reading are huge. The enjoyment of reading a great story itself: something that is hard-wired into us all. It’s also the opportunity to learn about new places, people and cultures. Joining a book club, even online, is an easy way to find a community and connection. If you use Audible, you can listen with a partner, and discuss what you think as we you go along.

Should you read self-help books?

If you are finding this useful, and relaxing, then yes, or course. Whatever works for you. My main point is that clients read something that distracts and relaxes: something that helps them escape from whatever is causing them stress in their lives. For me, and many of my clients, it’s only fiction that does that.

Finally, reading can help with so many of our human needs. It can give us a sense of privacy, of escaping into our own private world. It can help us connect with others, providing fodder for conversations or introducing us to new friends through a book club. Reading to our children helps us focus our attention on them, a key need for them. I’ve known couple who read to each other, a lovely intimate thing to do. It can also provide us with a sense of achievement: that lovely feeling when you finish a book that you’ve really enjoyed, or even finally worked your way through Anna Karenina!

Have you noticed that you just can’t concentrate and are too stressed to read lately? Contact me to arrange a no-obligation call if you’d like to do some work to lower stress levels and get you back into reading again.