As I sit on the train on my commute home from work I look around; I would say most people are on their phone. Actually, I counted… 18 were on an electronic device (15 phones) and 5 people (including me were reading books or papers). But I distinctly remember a time, not that long ago, when most people would be reading books or even newspapers (which often stretched uncomfortably across the next person’s lap). I understand that’s the way the world is going but I feel sad that people seem to be reading fewer books – and I am possibly guilty of it too! ABC recently released some findings from their National Science Week smart phone survey which showed that over 45% of people aged between 26-45 attribute less book reading to smart phone usage.
When I decided to write this blog post, I had a bunch of ideas as to why I thought reading was good for us as Mums. Nevertheless, I turned to Google to expand my list (I am a researcher by trade). What surprised me when I googled “why reading is good for mums”, is that most of the resulting weblinks were about reading to your children…. **intro Shannon Knoll…. ‘what about me….?’. Don’t get me wrong, reading to our kids is a must, but putting aside some time for reading ourselves is also important and here’s why:
For your health
Books are a great stress busting tool. A study by Sussex University researchers in 2009 showed that reading may reduce stress by as much as 68 per cent! This is said to be because reading requires the mind to concentrate which is a distraction that eases tension in the muscles and heart. During the research study, participants started to relax after only six minutes of silent reading. A good book will also take you into another world… someone else’s world, and for a short time you might almost forget your problems.
Staying mentally active by reading a variety of books can assist in the prevention of dementia related illnesses. Did you know that almost one in 10 Australians aged over 65 have dementia, but by 85, it’s one in three? That’s a pretty scary statistic! Your brain is another muscle of your body so use it or lose it. We often think about dedicating 30 minutes a day to the gym or exercise but what about 30 minutes a day for reading a book. Reading makes you think in different ways, improves comprehension skills, forces you to use your imagination and fantasize. Speaking of imagination, have you ever watched a movie about a book and thought, hang on a second, that’s not what she or he looks like? Because you have had a set image in your head about what a character will look like? And then you chat with friends they have a completely different image? Expanding your thoughts and exercising your imagination is like a short workout for your brain (unfortunately the calories don’t disappear).
To set a good example
Are you constantly trying to encourage your kids to read and get off the electronic devices? Reading a book for leisure sets such a great example for kids – especially when we are so attached to our phones and devices. For anyone with the latest Apple ios9 – you can see how much time you are spending on apps – I challenge you to try and convert at least half of your online time (whatever that may be: Facebook, Instagram, shopping) to book reading time.
Gives you something else to talk about
I enjoy catching up with friends for lunch and coffee but sometimes feel that all we talk about is work and the kids and most of the time we are complaining! Reading the same book as friends or even joining a bookclub gives you something else to think about and talk about. I also enjoy having someone to discuss the details of the book with when I have questions or am confused. I love dissecting a book, villain or victim with my friends and work buddies over a cuppa.
While some of us choose to dabble in lavish hobbies such as golf or ice sculpting others may wish to find an inexpensive and simple hobby – which you can do almost anywhere. Reading is just that! Books are free to borrow from your local library so make the most of them. If you can’t get to a library why not declare your war on waste and pick up some bargains at the Lifeline Bookfest (for Queenslanders) or your local opshop or second-hand bookstore. If you are after something new, there are many cheap online shops for books including Book Depository and Amazon or why not support your local independent bookshop? And don’t forget to add the books you’ve read to your Goodreads account so you can keep track of what you’ve read and learn about other books that you might enjoy.
And whether you choose a ‘real’ book or an ebook-reader? That’s a post for another day.
Personally my favourite time to read, is with a cuppa, just after the kids are in bed, but what about you? Do you watch mindless TV for hours, repeats of Friends or indulge in Outlander (which is also a book series by the way)? So, instead of spending the final 15 minutes of your waking day on Facebook, why not pick up a book – recommended to you by other Mums. Put your phone on silent, get a good reading light and snuggle back into your pillow. You will be amazed at how good you feel.
Thanks must go to my editor – Kylie Kraus.