When our lives are upended and we are left to forge our own schedules every day, most of us just don’t. While some of us may be relishing this at-home time, the other half of the population is listlessly going about their days in limbo, feeling lost and unproductive. Life altering situations like COVID-19 can really change the way we think and the way we treat ourselves. Oftentimes, when we have nowhere to go, we may feel like we have nothing to do. A total departure from our scheduled routines can disrupt sleep, cause us to miss meals (or the opposite: snack all day), and generally harm our well-being. We find enough time to spiral down social media binges, and before we know it, our phones are warning us that we have spent an average of 6 hours of screen time per day.
It takes around 66 days to settle a new habit, and with basically over two months of 'fase menos uno', there has been sufficient time to make Netflix binging a new lifestyle. At times, it is inevitable to go down the loophole of beginning and ending a whole series in the span of two weeks. Taking time off is absolutely fine, however, it is because of the increased likelihood of developing these undesired habits, that I have taken it upon myself to combat this mental epidemic by creating good habits instead!
Reading can give you the wings of teleportation. You can travel mentally where laws and hefty fines may be preventing you from travelling physically. Yes, it is true that Youtube and the readily available streaming services can do that for you too, but it is not the same. Often times, when you are reading, you are seeing and thinking from a completely new perspective. I find that fewer movies have the capacity of fully transporting you into the minds of different people. When you watch a film, your brain is judging the events somewhat passively. However, if you are reading, because you are mentally impersonating different characters, you are probably less likely to judge and more likely to think and question your own beliefs because you have more time between chapter and chapter to do so.
Similarly, whilst Youtube content may be entertaining, it mirrors the society we live in: effective and quick-paced. Reading can help you slow down, and live more in the present! The stories and ideas explored in books have been more thoroughly thought through. An author spends years writing books surrounding single ideas or concepts. Every word has a purpose and intention behind it. You, as the reader, get to condense years of work into shortened hours of reading. Contrarily, most of the ideas explored in Youtube videos have been developed in the time span of minutes to maybe weeks, and at most months (there may be singled opportunities where years, but that is not usually the case).
More reasons for you to start reading:
Reading strengthens your brain: Research has confirmed that reading involves a complex network of circuits and signals in the brain. As your reading ability matures, those networks also get stronger and more sophisticated.
Increases your ability to empathise: Research has shown that people who read literary fiction — stories that explore the inner lives of characters — show a heightened ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of others.
Builds your vocabulary - students who read books regularly, beginning at a young age, gradually develop large vocabularies. And vocabulary size can influence many areas of your life, from scores on standardised tests to college admissions and job opportunities.
Helps prevent age-related cognitive decline: Research hasn’t proven conclusively that reading books prevents diseases like Alzheimer’s, however, studies show that seniors who read and solve math problems every day maintain and improve their cognitive functioning.
Reduces stress: Studies in 2009 found that 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga and humour did.
Helps alleviate symptoms of depression: Reading fiction can allow you to temporarily escape your own world and become swept up in the imagined experiences of the characters, and nonfiction, self-help books can teach you strategies that may help you manage symptoms and help develop healthy coping mechanisms.
May even help you live longer: A long-term health and retirement study followed a cohort of 3,635 adult participants for a period of 12 years, finding that those who read books survived around 2 years longer than those who either did not read or who read magazines and other forms of media.
Federica D, Year 12