Reading for Mental Health

Most of you will know reading as something you do for fun, or because you have no choice if you want to pass that exam. Maybe without reading, you wouldn’t understand most of the movie you’re watching (hello subtitles!) or the game you’re playing. Reading helps us in so many ways to make sense of the world around us, while also being a fun past time.

For me, reading is all of that and more. I’ve decided to write a couple of blog posts and the ways in which reading helps me keep mentally stable. I don’t have any diagnoseable mental health issues. However, life isn’t always easy to deal with. That’s why it’s life. Reading helps me deal with life just a little bit better.

Before I can start explaining the first way in which reading helps me, I’ll have to tell you a couple of things about myself. I have an IQ of 135. No, this doesn’t mean I’m smarter than a lot of people. It means that, usually, I can process the information I have a bit (or a lot) faster than others. It means I can understand things more quickly.

Because of this, I often overthink things. I go from consequence to consequence to consequence. Most of the time, at the end of this spiral of thought, it means I don’t post what I’ve just written in a comment, or I completely restructure my thoughts. It also means I’ve got a hard time being spontaneous with new people around, because of the overthinking: what if they think I’m weird?

The boyfriend has pointed out, how I can go on and on and on and on for half an hour to an hour about the tiniest things that bother me. This is of course, when I speak out those thoughts to someone that I trust. A couple of weeks ago, it involved a traffic sign. There had never been  a sign here on my way back from work and now there was. It just didn’t make sense to me at all (they changed it a couple days later, so I was right), but I kept turning it over in my head to try and figure out what the logic behind it was and what it meant to me driving there. What frustrated me, is that I couldn’t see the logic. I was so glad when they changed the sign a couple days later!

Another example is me freaking out in the dressing room. Not because the clothes I was trying on didn’t fit. It was because I was stressed. I had gone over all the things I still had to/wanted to do in my head and there just wouldn’t be enough time for all of it. That makes sense when you have a list with a million things on it, but none of those were particularly important. I don’t even remember all of the things I felt like I had to do that time. In that moment though, in the middle of that spiral, it’s just too overwhelming.

What reading a good (!) book does, is calm my brain down. It stops the thoughts from spiraling all the time. Only a good book does this for me. If it’s not exactly to my liking, I put it down to often and start doing other things, which doesn’t always keep my head occupied.

If I’m reading a good book, all of my brain seems to be occupied, I won’t even notice when you start talking to me. Or I’ll answer without knowing that I’ve answered or what I’ve answered. (It’s also awesome to ignore people under the pretense of reading!). It’s like my whole being is focused on the story. It really helps me, that my eyes are doing something, as well as my hands. I notice that when listening to audiobooks or watching movies my hands need something to do. A book has all that. It’s amazing to give my brain a break and be so completely immersed in something.

 

PS. the spiraling is probably also related to my overactive beta-waves, which don’t get any less when asleep. Thanks brain!

PPS. There are not just negative consequences to my weird brain, that just wasn’t what this post was about though.

3 thoughts on “Reading for Mental Health

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  1. I completely relate to this post because like you I can overthink a lot of things which partly was my downfall at the end of 2016 with Merijn. I would overthink every little thing concerning him. And I couldn’t always find the answer and I would stress myself out over it so much.

    I need to read. If I haven’t read for a few days because of things I can get pretty cranky and stressed. It is why when my parents were here I made sure I borrowed a few graphic novels from a friend so I knew I could read something during their time here without getting crabby because they kept talking to me while reading, haha.

    Like

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