Hi, friends. Today’s post is just some musings related to reading and mental health. For me, I’ve found that there is a distinct relationship between the two. I wanted to explore that a bit and see if anyone else experiences the same. Plus, if anyone has any advice on how to get over the “I want to read but can’t make myself sit down to do so” mentality that has become my personality. 😅
So, let’s discuss!
My Reading Habits
So, no one is surprised that I like to read. I mean, I’m a book blogger and a writer. It kinda comes with the territory. No idea how I initially got into either hobby, either (reading or writing). But I remember growing up and reading all of the time. I’d read during class breaks, sometimes even sneaking in pages during class or during recess. I always had the maximum number of books allowed checked out at my library growing up. My evenings were spent reading, every night. The usual culprit for me getting in trouble was my Mom catching me up past my bedtime because I was still reading my book.
That all changed once I got into college.
Suddenly, I had a lot of things vying for my attention. Reading for fun was a luxury I didn’t have anymore. Eventually, I did get back into it. And though I don’t read anywhere near the amount I used to growing up, I still read more than anyone else I know IRL.
Now, my mental health journey is a whole ‘nother beast. Though I wasn’t officially diagnosed with my trio of disorders (Anxiety, Depression and OSFED) until the past few years, I’ve had all of them for as long as I could remember. Growing up as a goodie-two-shoes, people-pleasing perfectionist makes it unsurprising that anxiety has been a constant companion. Depression I’ve dealt with for a long time, especially related to ingrained fatphobia and body image.
I take medication for depression and used to go to therapy (until I couldn’t afford it). I have good days and bad days, like we all do. But right now, on average, I’d say my mental health is…not great.
Reading and Mental Health
So: how does my relationship with reading tie into my mental health? Well, I’ve found it to be a direct correlation between positive and negative reactions. When I am actively reading, I am immediately happier. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes during my lunch break. When I read consistently (i.e., am not in a reading slump), I am happier. I look forward to opportunities to read and, often, once I sit down to do so, I struggle to stop.
On the flip side, I feel a lot of guilt when I’m not reading. Part of that is tied to being a book blogger and a writer, and how reading has become more of an obligation than a hobby, like it used to. Yet I think, unconsciously, I know I’m happier when I read.
So, why has it become so hard to get myself to do it? And why am I happier in the first place?
I’m honestly not sure. Amber @ The Literary Phoenix actually wrote a really interesting discussion on this the other day, discussing bibliotherapy. It’s a term I’d never heard before, yet I think might have some merit? (I want to look more into it.) Am I happier because reading was so foundational to me, that my endorphins are positively tied to it? Or perhaps because it takes me back to “simpler times” unconsciously that allows me to relax in ways I can’t anymore, in other facets of my life?
Couldn’t tell you, one way or the other. All I know is that I’m happier when I’m reading, yet I struggle to sit down to do so. Make it make sense. 🤷♀️
This was a very brief discussion today, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you have a relationship (positive or negative) between reading and mental health? Any insights on why you think someone might gain endorphins from reading (especially a reader like me, who reads a lot of challenging and complex and heartbreaking books)? Do you think bibliotherapy is a thing? Do you have any advice on how to swap my brain from not wanting to read to doing so?
Lots of questions I’d love to hear your thoughts on in the comments. Regardless, thanks for checking out this post, where I wrote some variation of the word “read” more times than I think ever before. 😅