by Sierra Delarosa
One of the best ways to prevent burnout is to nurture yourself. When you listen to your mind and body, you are able to take care of yourself better. Self-care ensures that you will be at your best whether you are at work, at home, or even on vacation.
Many people choose to unwind by pulling out a good book to read. Books certainly can be entertaining, as you can travel to different places from the comfort of your sofa.
However, did you know that reading books can also help you develop more empathy, strengthen your brain, and fill you up with more knowledge to boot? People who have more empathy are able to develop more meaningful relationships, which is key to living a happier, healthier life. Interestingly, it has been shown that those who read throughout life have a survival advantage over those who don’t. Reading a book can be one of the best ways to nurture yourself.
When you read a story, you make a personal investment into the characters’ worlds. You learn about their personalities, their aspirations, their motivations. In other words, you develop empathy for your favorite characters. Your empathy skills can easily be transferred to real life, helping you achieve better interpersonal relations.
Stories have the universal ability to light up areas in the brain responsible for emotional processing and memory, regardless of the language the book is written in. Your imagination is intensely stimulated when you are simply given just a few descriptive words-the brain fills in the rest of the picture. Instead of passively watching a movie on a screen, when you read, your brain works harder so that the story comes to life. People who have a good imagination are not only cooler to be around; they can be more creative in their daily lives, whether they are at work or play.
If you’re into poetry, why not dig into some of the more complex variety, such as Shakespeare or Wordsworth? The brain produces heightened activity when reading complicated poetry in comparison to poetry that is easier to read. In complex poetry, there is an increased activation in the right brain hemisphere, a part which is responsible for autobiographical memory. Complex poetry can stimulate your brain to work harder, and encourage you to draw from your own memories to fully experience the poetic material.
Books can inspire you to move outside of your comfort zone. You may find yourself becoming interested in trying something that you’ve only read about, like surfing, traveling to India, or climbing Mt. Everest.
Those who read are able to express themselves better because they develop a better vocabulary and better writing skills. Being able to express yourself is important for your overall happiness. You will not only be able to ask for what you need but can also effectively let others know where you stand. Good communication skills are an asset in both business and personal relationships.
By keeping yourself mentally stimulated throughout life, you can help yourself stay sharp and focused. Fight cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and dementia by reading a good book on a regular basis. Whether it is a book of poems or one that tells a story (fiction or non-fiction), picking up a book can be an act of self-care. And when you take care of yourself, you are happier.