And how it can help with anxiety.
I have experienced Anxiety for a few years now, and even before I knew that I had anxiety, I had begun to develop some coping mechanisms that worked for me. In this post, I will be discussing how I use reading to cope with my Anxiety and how it could (hopefully) help you- whether you have a diagnosed Anxiety disorder or you are just feeling stressed in your current situation.
It has been proven that reading is an amazing way to help with stress. Before I knew that I had anxiety, I assumed that I was just stressed (as did everybody else), as nobody ever assumes a (seemingly) confident 12 year old that performs on stage as often as possible has any sort of mental health problem. So I began reading more as a way to dissolve that ‘stress’. I soon realised that it was, in fact, working. I developed a love of reading that I had never really experienced before and when I learned that I had an Anxiety disorder, I continued to increase how often I was reading; as the more time I spent reading, the less time my mind had to wonder to all of the possible disasters (that could never actually happen) that could occur.
For me, reading a new book is a new way to escape – An entire new world per book that I can use to distract myself from my extra-anxious mindset.Still, to this day, there is not much that can make me feel better than sitting down with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Re-reading an old favourite can act like a comfort blanket. It may sound cheesy; but it genuinely feels like I’m visiting old friends.
Here are three of my favourite books (and my favourite quote from each) that I always return to at a particularly anxious time:
- The ‘Harry Potter’ Series by J.K Rowling
because it reminds me of the feeling I had when I first read the Harry Potter series of such total belonging and you could almost say magic (pun intended).
“Of course it’s happening inside your head Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it isn’t real?”
- The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins
because it makes me feel grateful for our slightly crappy world, as we are lucky enough to not live in such a dystopian world where children are sent to fight to the death.
“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear”
- The ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Series by Lemony Snicket
because I get so quickly engrossed in the way that the narrative is written and it makes me feel as if I am watching the events happen with my own eyes, rather than simply reading about them.
“What might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey”
I have more of my favourites on my Goodreads profile:
Another way that reading can help with mental health in general (not just Anxiety) is that there are some wonderful mental health fiction nowadays. For example:
- ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ By Holly Bourne
which explores OCD and does not, in any way, sugar-coat it.
- ‘All the Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven
which explored depression and grief/bereavement in an honest way.
- ‘Finding Audrey’ by Sophie Kinsella
which, although isn’t my favourite in terms of ending/ plot resolve, shows the mindset of a teenager with sever social anxiety/agoraphobia.
There are more and more mental health related books coming out each and every day, some of which are genuinely helpful and honest. These types of books are especially good when you don’t understand why you feel how you feel, or feel alone in what you are feeling, as the characters that are experiencing the same issues/feelings as you, can make you feel like you are not alone and sometimes, just the fact that someone has written about something you identify with, can help.
Now, I could go on all day about how amazing reading is and how it can help you- but really, mental illness isn’t something that you can just turn off. I said that reading can help with my anxiety (which it can), but only when it is at a controllable state; which you must keep in mind. Books cannot solve everything, but can certainly help distract from those feelings which we wish to avoid and sometimes help us understand ourselves through the eyes of somebody else- real or fictional. (which has to be a positive, right?)
All in all, I recommend that you go put the kettle on, make yourself a cuppa and sit down in a quiet and comfortable environment with a good book. After all :
Thank you for reading