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How Reading Relieves Anxiety

By Mark Silvanic, 9:00 am on

An inscription over the ancient doorway of a library in Thebes exclaims that the location is a “healing place for the soul.” Avid readers would agree that reading a novel is a form of escape. Stories have the ability to transport readers to another time or place. They also enable the reader to step into the shoes of other people. Immersing one’s self in a book can inspire courage, promote personal growth and reduce anxiety, or so scientists say. This article explains to Colorado Springs caregivers how reading can help reduce their loved one’s alleviate anxiety.

During World War I, hospitals in Great Britain and in the United States established libraries and encouraged recovering wounded soldiers to pass their time reading. The act was shown to improve the mental and physical condition of the injured men. Presbyterian minister Samuel M. Crothers named this concept bibliotherapy. 

A group of researchers from Emory University found scientific evidence of what authors and readers have known all along. When study volunteers were actively engaged in reading a novel, imaging studies revealed that a variety of neural changes occurred. When reading, centers of the brain associated with physical movement and sensations were stimulated. The brain activity mirrored the experiences of the central character of the story. 

Facility professor Gregory Berns also shared that the neural changes continued into the next day and sometimes up to five days after reading. While stepping into a character’s shoes or joining him or her on a journey, readers also experience various emotions that include compassion. By stimulating the emotional region of the brain, stories have the ability to boost personal growth and healing while allowing them to escape from anxiety or depression. 

The therapeutic effects of reading inspired author Alain de Botton to create a bibliotherapy service, which he calls The School of Life. The service features novels written by therapists that involves characters traveling along pathways, which many may identify with. The books are a combination of fiction and self-help therapy that both seniors and El Paso County live-in home caregivers can benefit from.

Turn to Monument at-home care providers like Home Care Assistance to effectively help your loved one manage stress. Our highly trained and certified caregivers work around your loved one’s schedule to help with daily activities and chores to boost physical and emotional wellbeing at home. Call (719) 822-1229 today to schedule a complimentary consultation with a trusted Care Manager.