book · book review · mental health · reading challenge · Uncategorized

Reading & Mental Health

At the start of 2016, I decided to set myself a challenge to read 30 books this year. I surprised myself by reaching this goal in October with 2 months to spare. It was honestly one of the best goals I’ve ever set myself.

As a kid/teenager I was an avid reader, it was rare to see me without my head in a book. However, as I got older and mental illness took over, reading became difficult. I couldn’t focus on words and I could never remember what I had read. So it slowed down. Throughout university, I read very rarely for pleasure and reading for my work tended to be bits and pieces rather than entire books. At the end of last year, I started to read more when I was commuting into London for my internship – it was then that I realised how much I missed it.

I missed being drawn into new worlds and feeling part of something. I missed getting to know characters and feeling so deeply that they were part of my life for a short while. As a child, books were my escape from a dysfunctional family that I never really felt part of. As an adult, they have become an escape from my own head.

Reading all these books over the past year has genuinely helped my own mental health. It has given me a sense of achievement – I am really proud of myself for being able to start and finish all the books even when I’ve been unwell. It’s been somewhat motivating and I have definitely noticed a difference in my mental health when I’ve been reading. I’ve spent less time ruminating on things, it has eased my anxiety on public transport.

So with 2017 just around the corner (why is time flying by so fast?!) I am definitely planning on setting myself the same goal to ensure that I make books a priority. Because it is something that I can enjoy even when I’m horribly depressed. It gives me something to work towards and allows me an escape that is healthy.

And I guess this links nicely to my second tattoo which I got today:

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You can check out the books I’ve read this year here and please do share any recommendations for what I should read next year!

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