There are years’ worth of studies showing that reading can boost mental health and wellbeing. And not just books written for mental health, like those at the amazing Reading Well project. No, creative fiction and poetry have amazing benefits too!
And what’s more, the benefits get more specific than stress reduction. They can actually help with loneliness, which is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. A good book connects you to the characters within it, encouraging you to form bonds as the plot progresses so that you really invest in the story. One study even shows that you can start to share the same collective identity as the book’s characters! As an example, this is why most people know their Hogwarts House from Harry Potter – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw – and can even start to bond and identify better with people in real life, because identifying with the same House means you probably share similar personality traits. Amazing.
So, if you’re feeling a bit lonely, one option that’s always available is to pick up a good book. Go on the same journey as the characters within it, empathise with their plight, join their adventure, and you might just find yourself having a great time.
The Reading Well project has a page recommending loads of great books, and there are even options to sort by who’s chosen them. Check out the top picks here.
Reading is one thing you can do to help boost your mood, but we don’t want to minimise how complex mental health, wellbeing, and illness are. If you’re struggling, SGS has a great Wellbeing team who you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The people over there have a fantastic understanding of the stresses students are through and they’re always looking to help!