How and Why to Develop
A Regular Reading Habit
Benefits of Reading – Reading is a key part of our development from a young age. It helps to shape our perception of the world and can influence our beliefs and values. It extends our vocabulary, advances our communication skills, and sparks our imagination.
As we move through education, reading becomes a way to expand our knowledge and a continued part of personal development, yet so many of us stop reading when it is no longer required of us.
In this article, we explore the benefits of reading in adult life and how to turn this pastime into a regular habit.
The Benefits of Reading
For many of us, reading forms part of our everyday lives. We read at work, at home, and to generally navigate our way through life. Beyond its basic purpose, however, there are many benefits of a regular reading habit – benefits that have a significantly positive impact on our lives.
Broadens our Vocabulary
Reading allows us to learn new words in context, giving us a greater command of our native language. This, in turn, improves our communication skills.
As strong communicators, we become more confident when speaking in public, which can improve our social lives, professional achievements, and job prospects.
When we read, it helps us shut out the stresses and strains of our daily life, particularly if we’re reading fiction that transports us into another world.
Some studies have found that just 30 minutes of reading can lower heart rate and blood pressure. This temporary escapism has also proven to ease psychological distress and symptoms of depression.
Expands Our Worldview
Whether fiction or nonfiction, reading deepens our knowledge, opens our minds to new ways of thinking, and helps us understand the world from different perspectives. Not only do we become more knowledgeable, but we also develop our emotional intelligence and empathy, strengthening our social relationships.
Improves Memory, Focus, and Concentration
Modern life does us a few favors when it comes to our memory, focus, and concentration. We have access to so much information on demand that we rarely give it our full attention, and we use mobile devices to remind us of or automate important tasks. Reading helps reverse some of the damage caused by our reliance on technology. It forces us to focus on a single task and use our memory to connect the dots of a narrative.
Helps Maintain Cognitive Function
Just as we need to exercise our bodies to maintain physical health, we need to exercise our brains to maintain cognitive function. Regular reading is one such form of exercise.
Though research is far from scientifically conclusive, it is widely held that activities that provide mental stimulation can slow the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Encourages Analytical Thinking
Analytical thinking is a crucial life skill, one that impacts our problem-solving and decision-making abilities,
which in themselves have a significant impact on our quality of life.
When we read regularly, we learn to question what we think we know, be it through exposure to new facts in nonfiction or by processing a fictional plot twist.
How to Develop a Reading Habit
Now we know the benefits of reading, how do we make it a part of our daily lives? Here are five actionable tips for developing and maintaining a regular reading habit:
1. Start Small
If you’re new to reading, starting small and working your way up is best. Modern life is busy. If you try to squeeze in more than you have time for, you’ll likely drop the activity before you start to enjoy it.
Set aside a small amount of time each day – even if it’s just 10 minutes – and don’t worry if you don’t read any more than that.
2. Plan Your Reading
It takes discipline to form any kind of sustainable habit, so include dedicated reading time in your daily schedule. By sticking to an allocated time slot, you’ll soon find reading becomes a regular part of your routine.
3. Remove Distractions
Find yourself a tranquil space that’s quiet, comfortable, and free from distractions.
Leave your phone elsewhere and let yourself focus solely on your reading.
4. Read What You Enjoy
If you’re not interested in what’s in front of you, it’s unlikely to spark a regular reading habit. Focus only on genres you enjoy or, if you prefer, alternative materials to books like magazine articles. If you start something and find you lose interest, it’s OK to leave it unfinished and pick up new reading material.
5. Challenge Yourself
As you settle into your reading habit, set yourself goals that challenge you. This could be a certain number of pages per week or a list of titles to complete in a year. It could be exploring a new genre or delving deeper into a specific topic.
With goals comes a sense of achievement that will make you more inclined to continue your reading habit.
There is no right or wrong way to read. You can focus on one book at a time or have several on the go. You can use printed publications, e-readers, or audiobooks. The important thing is to read in a way that suits you.
Whatever approach you take, the actionable steps in this article will help you find joy in the written word and gain all the benefits of a regular reading habit.
Mental Stimulation Slows Alzheimer’s Progression | Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation (alzinfo.org)