Op-Ed: Why You Should Read Every Day

In an age where we are so preoccupied with social media and the internet, it’s common to hear someone say that they don’t like to read; but reading used to be a daily ritual for those who wanted the gain knowledge, improve their memory, and broaden their vocabulary.

With multiple forms of communication and information available at our fingertips, it’s important not to lose touch with the practice of daily reading. While some people are often too busy to read, some don’t care to read at all. 

There are many benefits to reading daily, like improving how fast you can read or bettering your writing skills. I’ve compiled a list of benefits that show how important this small routine could improve your personal development.  

  1. Reading Increases Mental Stimulation to the Brain.

There are a growing number of studies that show how reading creates mental stimulation in the brain. According to a study by PubMed Central conducted in 2013, researchers used MRI scans to measure the effect reading a novel has on the brain. Over a period of nine days, participants read the novel Pompeii. As tension built in the story, these MRI scans showed more and more areas of the brain light up with activity. These MRIs also showed that throughout the reading period, and even for days afterward, brain connectivity increased, especially in the somatosensory cortex which is a part of the brain that responds to physical sensations like movement and pain. 

Much like your body needs exercise to stay active and improve one’s health and wellness, it’s imperative to increase mental stimulation for your brain’s overall health. Reading is just one very effective way to do that.  

  1. Reading Increases Your Ability to Empathize.

Research has also shown that reading increases your ability to empathize with others. People who read literary fiction—stories that explore the inner lives of characters—have shown a heightened ability to understand others’ feelings and beliefs, even if they contradict our own. 

Researchers refer to this ability as the “theory of mind.” This skill of being able to empathize with others is crucial to the way we build, navigate, and maintain relationships in our day-to-day lives. Reading about different story plots and perspectives open our minds to the world around us, rather than being captivated solely by the life we are living. 

Studies show that long-term fiction readers tend to have a better-developed theory of mind. 

  1. Reading is a Great Habit for Stress Reduction. 

Many avid readers will refer to their routine of reading as an escape, and this is why it’s a great tool to relieve stress. Everyday concerns will keep bothering you unless you do something to divert your attention. Reading gives you the space to occupy yourself, diving into someone else’s perspective, life, or struggles. 

For me, reading is relaxing and gives me a break from the everyday demands of life. Sometimes while reading, you may even come across valuable advice, incite, or even solutions to your problems through diving into someone else’s perspective. 

Though there are many more benefits from reading like alleviating depression symptoms, increasing your vocabulary, and preparing you for a good night’s sleep, to name a few, there is no denying that reading will help your overall health and wellness. 

With our busy lives, it might be hard to pick up a book and read, but it’s an important practice you should make time for. Maybe instead of binge-watching your favorite series, try picking up a book instead. While there’s nothing wrong with watching TV, studies show that prolonged TV viewing, especially for children, may change the brain in unhealthy ways, adding to the cognitive decline of language and memory over time. 
Exercise your mind and read a book! For some awesome book suggestions, check out Books About Juneteenth, 4 Great Beach Reads for the Summer, or The Best Binge-Reading Series to Start Today.

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