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Why you should read a book instead of binging another Netflix season

By Tori Taylor, October 30 2019 —

When I was younger, my parents would take away my books and mandate “outside time.” I would have to go outside and socialize instead of burying my head in the pages of whatever wild adventure I was lost in. I quickly learned to hide novels in the front and back-yard of my house. This made “outside time” much more enjoyable. I am not saying I didn’t love riding my bike, playing soccer and kicking my neighbour’s ass at tether-ball — but I was a bizarre fifth-grade kid powering back V.C Andrews novels faster than my parents could confiscate them. I am not advocating for any 10 year old to read the ultimate adult romance novel before they know what the word “navel” means but I did have quite a mature vocabulary by the end of the “Flowers in the Attic” series. Reading was my escape — as it is for many people. Books let you dive into the lives of other people, sceneries of new places and defy reality via time travel or limitless science-fiction ideas

As adults it seems to be difficult to find the time to read like I did in my younger years. Somehow I am always too busy to sit down for an hour or more and get lost in a book. I miss it very much. Reading a book of any kind can offer such a calm bubble of retreat from the daily stress we all face.

At the beginning of the summer, I made the choice to start reading again for enjoyment. I was struggling to fit it into my schedule. I wasn’t wanting to realize that all of the time I used to spend reading was now being borderline-obsessively dedicated to my dearly beloved significant other, Netflix. The day Grey’s Anatomy was uploaded onto the Netflix server was the day I divorced the-written-word without so much as a kiss goodbye. 

It was time to make some changes. 

I’m not saying you should stop watching Friends reruns. Never stop watching Friends. And crime documentaries pair remarkably well with the infamous hungover-Sunday mood. But making a goal to wind down at the end of your day by reading 15-30 minutes can make a big difference in your mental health. I find that staring at a screen into the late hours of the evening can keep me awake much later than I intend to be. I get easily sucked into watching tv or Netflix well after my designated bedtime. Chances are I am not alone in this. I don’t need to admit how many times I have meant to watch only one episode and four hours later I’ve committed to Killing Eve in its entirety before the sun comes up. 

Mental stimulation:

Deciding to crack open a book instead of turning on your laptop is a way of exercising your brain. We work out our muscles to stay strong. Strong muscles prevent aging and injury. This applies to our brain — a very important muscle. By reading, you are working out your brain and preventing early signs of mental aging. Reading helps cognitive stimulation. Dedicate a certain amount of time to exercising your brain instead of watching T.V.

Vocabulary expansion:

Reading will give you a leg-up when it comes to your diction choices. The more you read, the more words you will learn — those words will trickle into your day-to-day conversation and surely impress the people around you. A larger vocabulary will help you advance in your career and give you more confidence talking with people you view as superior or intimidating. 

Stronger memory:

Books are made up of various characters, scenes, plot lines, dialogue and more. When you read a book you commit all of these things to memory in order to understand the story line. You are strengthening your memory without even realizing it. The more you read the better and stronger your memory becomes. This is a great way to keep your mind strong and prevent mental aging.

Improved concentration and focus:

We spend so much of our days with rapidly moving images across screens, scrolling and darting from one thing to the next. We jump between emails to text to instagram messaging to facebook to Hinge and then back to text — almost simultaneously. That is a lot to multi-task and it can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed. It is no wonder stress builds throughout a long day of so much multitasking. When you sit down and read a book you focus your attention on one single thing — just the words on the page. Reading is an excellent way to stay engaged while keeping the mind calm and in one place at a time. 

Even if reading has not been something you’ve enjoyed in the past you can still give it a try.  Practice taking ten minutes to read anything. You can try a novel, biography, DIY articles, cookbooks or business-building guides — whatever you enjoy learning about is the best place to start. Grab any type of reading material and reap the benefits.

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