How to Make More Time to Read (and Reading Benefits You Didn’t Know About)

Reading has been an integral part of human civilization for centuries, and while the primary goal of reading is to expand knowledge and stimulate the mind, its positive effects on our overall health are often overlooked.

In this episode, I wanted to talk about why it’s important to make the time to read, how it benefits our health, and how to find that precious quiet time for ourselves and our books.

If you’d prefer to listen, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. 

In the 11th century, Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese noblewoman and lady-in-waiting, wrote “The Tale of Genji,” a 54-chapter story of courtly seduction believed to be the world’s first novel.

Fast forward over 1,000 years later and we still can’t get enough reading. What is it about reading that has kept people so engaged in this favorite pastime? What are people getting out of reading? Pleasure? Escapism? Inspiration? 

Yes to all of the above! But, we’re also getting some really powerful health benefits as well.

How Reading Benefits Our Health

1. Stress Reduction and Relaxation – In our fast-paced modern world, stress has become a common adversary for many of us. However, escaping into a captivating book can transport us to different worlds and temporarily distract us from our daily worries. Engaging with the story and the characters allows our minds to detach from reality, triggering a relaxation response and reducing stress levels. Studies have shown that just a few minutes of reading can significantly lower heart rate and ease muscle tension, contributing to an overall sense of calmness.

2. Mental Stimulation and Cognitive Health – Reading is like a workout for the brain. It stimulates various cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, and analytical thinking. When we read, we are required to process and comprehend information, follow plotlines, and remember character details. Regular mental engagement through reading has been associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. It’s akin to maintaining an agile mind as we age.

3. Strengthening Focus and Concentration – In the digital age, our attention spans have been tested and, for some, shortened by the constant bombardment of information. Reading, especially for extended periods, requires sustained focus and concentration. Engaging with a book demands undivided attention, training our brains to concentrate on a single task for more extended periods. Over time, this practice can improve our ability to concentrate on other activities, enhancing productivity and efficiency in our daily lives.

4. Improved Sleep Quality – Incorporating reading into your bedtime routine can have a profound impact on the quality of your sleep. Unlike the glaring screens of electronic devices, reading a physical book or an e-reader with a non-backlit screen reduces exposure to blue light, which can interfere with our natural sleep-wake cycle. The habit of reading before bedtime can signal our bodies that it’s time to wind down and improve our ability to fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper, more restorative sleep.

5. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence – Reading fiction, in particular, allows us to immerse ourselves in the lives and experiences of a variety of characters. This vicarious experience fosters empathy and emotional intelligence as we gain insight into different perspectives, emotions, and struggles. By connecting with the characters’ feelings and experiences, we strengthen our ability to understand and relate to others in our real lives, enhancing our social interactions and relationships.

15 Simple Strategies to Make More Room for Books in Your Busy Life

Many of us struggle to find time to read amidst the demands of work, family, and social commitments. However, with a little creativity and determination, it’s possible to make reading a regular part of your daily life. In this blog post, we’ll explore some practical strategies to help you make more time for reading and reignite your love for books.

1. Set Realistic Reading Goals – Begin by setting achievable reading goals that align with your current lifestyle. Whether it’s reading a certain number of pages each day or finishing a book within a specific timeframe, having clear objectives can provide motivation and structure. Start small, and gradually increase your goals as you become more comfortable with your reading routine.

2. Schedule Reading Time on Your Calendar – Treat your reading time as an essential appointment with yourself. Block out specific time slots on your calendar for reading, and treat it with the same level of commitment as you would for any other important activity.

3. Make Reading a Part of Your Morning or Evening Routine – Incorporate reading into your daily routines, either in the morning or before bedtime. Setting aside just 15-30 minutes for reading during these quieter moments can provide a sense of tranquility and help you start or end your day on a positive note.

4. Combine Reading with Daily Rituals – Incorporate reading into your daily rituals, such as having a cup of tea or coffee while reading in the morning or winding down with a book before going to bed. Integrating reading into existing routines makes it a natural part of your day.

5. Read During Meals – If you often eat alone or have a few minutes during your lunch break, use that time to read a few pages while enjoying your meal. It’s a perfect way to combine nourishment for both your body and mind.

6. Always Carry a Book with You – Opportunities to read can arise unexpectedly throughout the day – during your lunch break, while waiting for an appointment, or while commuting. Always keep a book or e-reader handy, so you can seize these moments and dive into a few pages whenever you get the chance. Make sure that all your digital devices are synced if you’re a digital reader. 

7. Limit Screen Time – We often spend a significant amount of time mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching TV shows. Consider setting limits on your screen time and allocating some of that free time for reading instead. You’ll be amazed at how much more reading you can accomplish by reducing digital distractions.

8. Swap Out TV Time for Reading Time – Identify TV shows or movies you can live without, and dedicate that time to reading instead. You might be surprised by how much extra reading you can fit in by making this simple switch.

9. Involve Your Family – Encourage your family members to read together. You can have family reading time where everyone reads their own book or reads aloud to each other, creating a cozy and enjoyable bonding experience.

10. Create a Cozy Reading Space – Designate a cozy and inviting reading nook in your home where you can retreat with your book. Personalize the space with comfortable seating, soft lighting, and a few of your favorite books. Having a dedicated reading spot can make the experience more enjoyable and encourage you to spend more time reading.

11. Join a Book Club or Reading Group – Engaging with others who share your passion for reading can be motivating and enjoyable. Joining a book club or reading group not only gives you a chance to discuss books but also holds you accountable for completing your reading assignments. It can add a social aspect to your reading experience and introduce you to new genres and authors you might not have discovered otherwise.

12. Set Reading Challenges or Rewards – Challenge yourself to read a certain number of books in a month or a year. Alternatively, set up a reward system for reaching reading milestones, such as treating yourself to a special book or a visit to a bookstore.

13. Reading Sprints and Readathons – By setting specific time slots for reading during sprints, individuals can create dedicated moments for their favorite books, making it easier to prioritize reading in their daily routine. Readathons, with their extended durations, offer a chance to immerse oneself in literature without distractions, allowing readers to make significant progress in their reading goals during these concentrated periods. Ultimately, these reading events provide structure and motivation, making it easier to carve out valuable time for the joy of reading.

14. Read Multiple Books at One Time – It allows for flexibility and variety in your reading habits. When juggling a busy schedule, it may be challenging to find long stretches of time to dedicate to a single book. However, by reading multiple books concurrently, you can take advantage of shorter pockets of free time throughout the day, such as during a commute, lunch break, or before bedtime. Additionally, different books cater to various moods and interests, so having multiple options at hand means you can switch between genres or subjects based on their current preferences. This variety can prevent burnout and keep the reading experience enjoyable and engaging.

15. Teach Yourself to Read Faster – Reading faster helps to increase your reading efficiency. As your reading speed improves, you can cover more content in a shorter amount of time, allowing you to finish books more quickly. This newfound speed enables you to fit reading sessions into busy schedules and utilize short breaks to make progress in your reading list. Ultimately, reading faster can empower you to make better use of available time, making reading a more accessible, and enjoyable part of your daily routine.

Remember, reading is not just a hobby but a powerful tool for personal growth and well-being. By finding creative ways to incorporate reading into your daily life, you can make it a lifelong habit that enriches your mind and nourishes your soul.

Finding time to read is a matter of prioritizing and incorporating it into your daily life. By setting realistic goals, making use of spare moments, and limiting distractions, you can make reading a rewarding and rejuvenating part of your routine. Remember, the benefits of reading extend far beyond entertainment; it contributes to personal growth, mental stimulation, and emotional well-being. So, embrace these strategies, and let the joy of reading enrich your life once more.

As we become more mindful of the impact of reading on our well-being, let us embrace the pleasure of this timeless activity and let it enrich our lives physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Other Resources:

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Come soak up all the warm, fuzzy feelings! My name is Kelly, and I’m excited to share my thoughts and opinions with you about books, movies, and TV series. I’m also obsessed with all things comfy cozy, self-care, and personal development.

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