Books are to the mind what movement is to the body. A good book has the capacity to completely transform our surroundings. Merely consuming words on paper can have us seeing through fresh eyes, feeling an array of emotion, and hearing from a different context. Studies discussing the effects of reading on the brain detail how it boosts creativity, reduces stress, improves memory retention, expands our cultural awareness, improves our vocabulary & writing skills – to list a few. Ultimately, the benefits to our wellbeing, knowledge, and our entire human experience are innumerable and immeasurable. Books will find a way to benefit your life; you simply have to introduce them into your world. Below are three suggestions to begin prioritizing a reading ritual.
start small. dedicate three minutes to reading a day.
Do not underestimate the power of baby steps. This “three-minute” suggestion is the most substantial because our collective attention span as a society is incredibly fractured. It’s not surprising many find it difficult to stay engaged in any task for long. Don’t brush reading off if you find it difficult to focus. I promise you; everyone is capable of moving beyond this point and loving it genuinely. Do the smallest thing you possibly can and schedule time with your book in doses your attention span is capable of tolerating. Set an alarm/reminder to read when you know you will be free. Then, set a timer for three minutes and open your book. If you want to continue after three minutes (which will likely be the case because our brains love stimulation), turn the timer off when it sounds and keep going. As the commitment gets easier, extend your reading sessions. You will naturally get to the point where a timer isn’t necessary because you can’t put them down.
create a peaceful reading nook.
It’s quite confusing for the mind when we perform all of our diverse activities in the same spaces. The brain doesn’t have a way to differentiate what is meant to happen in a particular area/at a specific time because there are too many conflicting signals. Simple examples of this would be looking at our phone in bed, which confuses the mind/body to no longer associate the bed with rest. Or eating at different times/places every day, which throws off our metabolism and disrupts the rhythm of hunger cues. When choosing your designated reading area, pick a space that is comfortable, but still energizing (you don’t want your nook becoming your nap corner). Natural light is a great place to start, and plants are always a perfect addition. By creating a comfortable reading nook, even if its just a chair or a spot outdoors, the mind will trigger receptors to say “reading happens here” when we are in it.
always carry a book with you.
For one reason or another, we all have gaps of time throughout the day when we’re waiting. Waiting for a friend to arrive, waiting in an office, waiting in the airport. All those 5-30 minute increments you typically swipe on your phone, you can open the book you are now carrying along with you. Even if those moments are the only times you can read, you will nevertheless finish a book eventually; merely by choosing to feed your mind rather than allow distractions.