Six ways reading can improve your mental health

Posted on 26 June 2018 by Kayleigh Lewis

Regular reading can result in a host of benefits. We all know about the obvious ones, like how giving your brain a good workout can keep it strong and healthy, and how important learning new things can be for you career. But did you know that reading can also be great for your mental health? From reducing stress levels to getting a better night’s sleep, we’ve highlighted six ways reading can improve your mental wellbeing.


Reducing stress

A comprehensive study by cognitive neurophysiologist Dr. David Lewis found that reading reduced stress faster and to a far greater degree than listening to music or playing video games. It was even more effective than having a cup of tea or going for a walk. He found that reading in silence for just six minutes is enough to slow heart rate and ease tension in muscles, leaving readers to feel more relaxed and reducing stress by 68 percent.


Increasing self-esteem

Findings from the report also suggested that readers had higher self-esteem and a greater level of self-awareness. Those who read for just 30 minutes a week were 18 percent more likely to report higher self-esteem, while readers in general were 10 percent more likely to report good self-esteem.


Improving sleep

According to the Mayo Clinic, establishing a good routine before going to bed can do wonders for your sleep quality. This includes avoiding electronic devices, as the blue light they emit can wreak havoc on your body clock. Instead, reading a physical book can aid your transition to sleep. This can be especially useful for seafarer’s who may work unusual hours.


Better language skills

Poor communication is frequently to blame for incidents at sea, with ‘Maritime English’ being widely used, despite seafarers coming from every corner of the world. Maintaining a good standard of language skills is key to preventing risks on the water, and reading can be a great way to maintain language levels and improve learning. 


Enhancing social skills

Even though reading is usually an individual activity, a study published in the journal Science found that reading fiction can enable people to have a better “theory of mind”. This basically refers to a person’s ability to understand people’s beliefs, desires and thoughts. In the multicultural world of the maritime industry this can be hugely beneficial when it comes to building and maintaining relationships.


Preventing depression

Finally, the sleep study by Dr. Lewis also revealed that readers were 28% less likely to report feelings of depression than those who don’t read. This may well be due to a combination of all of the other factors, resulting in readers feeling stronger and more balanced mentally.


So what are you waiting for? Visit your crew library or pick up a book and see if reading works wonders for your wellbeing.