Saturday, April 2, 2011

Read your way to mental health


Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Apr 2 2011 11:32AM

What's the five-letter synonym for someone who reads a lot? Brain! But jokes aside, reading can actually be good for your brain. Reading stimulates your mind, inspires creative thoughts and subtly widens your imagination.

Building a new brain

The human brain responds to new information by expanding connections and establishing new pathways which link what you already know to what you've just learned. Studies have shown that in just a few seconds, thousands of brain cells burst into action when you read aloud to a child. A 2009 study conducted by researchers at Mayo Clinic also found that reading books, playing games, participating in computer activities and crafting led to a 30 to 50 per cent decrease in the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, a transitional state between normal ageing and the earliest features of Alzheimer’s disease.

Try reading something new as much as you can. Your brain responds much more constructively to new material than to anything boring or repetitive. And reading Shakespeare can actually excite positive brain activity, as researchers from the University of Liverpool found out in 2006 study. Scientists from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh also found that the volume of white matter in an area of the brain that governs the use of language was increased following a six-month daily reading programme.

Books for therapy

Reading books and specific literature as therapy is often recommended to patients who show mild to moderate symptoms of depression or anxiety. Bibliotherapy helps broaden and deepen the patient's understanding of the particular problem that requires treatment. Many people feel that the opportunity to read about their problem outside the therapist's office facilitates active participation in their treatment. In addition, they are also relieved to discover that others have had the same problem and have coped successfully with it or recovered from it.

Reading can help you develop ideas, language, communication skills and imagination and shape your perspective towards people and things around you. And you don't have to turn into a bookworm overnight! Read a little everyday, one chapter at a time and you'll find how relaxing this hobby can be.

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