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10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day

10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day

When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant oatmeal packet? If you’re one of countless people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out: reading has a significant number of benefits, and just a few benefits of reading are listed below.

1. Mental Stimulation

    Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or possibly even prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind. Doing puzzles and playing games such as chess have also been found to be helpful with cognitive stimulation.

    2. Stress Reduction

    No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.

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    3. Knowledge

      Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.

      Additionally, here’s a bit of food for thought: should you ever find yourself in dire circumstances, remember that although you might lose everything else—your job, your possessions, your money, even your health—knowledge can never be taken from you.

      4. Vocabulary Expansion

      This goes with the above topic: the more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary. Being articulate and well-spoken is of great help in any profession, and knowing that you can speak to higher-ups with self-confidence can be an enormous boost to your self-esteem. It could even aid in your career, as those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to get promotions more quickly (and more often) than those with smaller vocabularies and lack of awareness of literature, scientific breakthroughs, and global events.

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      Reading books is also vital for learning new languages, as non-native speakers gain exposure to words used in context, which will ameliorate their own speaking and writing fluency.

      5. Memory Improvement

        When you read a book, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, and nuances, as well as the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. That’s a fair bit to remember, but brains are marvellous things and can remember these things with relative ease. Amazingly enough, every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways)and strengthens existing ones, which assists in short-term memory recall as well as stabilizing moods. How cool is that?

        6. Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills

        Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine “whodunnit”.

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        That same ability to analyze details also comes in handy when it comes to critiquing the plot; determining whether it was a well-written piece, if the characters were properly developed, if the storyline ran smoothly, etc. Should you ever have an opportunity to discuss the book with others, you’ll be able to state your opinions clearly, as you’ve taken the time to really consider all the aspects involved.

        7. Improved Focus and Concentration

          In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multi-task through every day. In a single 5-minute span, the average person will divide their time between working on a task, checking email, chatting with a couple of people (via gchat, skype, etc.), keeping an eye on twitter, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. This type of ADD-like behaviour causes stress levels to rise, and lowers our productivity.

          When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the story—the rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail you’re absorbing. Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work (i.e. on your morning commute, if you take public transit), and you’ll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.

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          8. Better Writing Skills

          This goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of your vocabulary: exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work. In the same way that musicians influence one another, and painters use techniques established by previous masters, so do writers learn how to craft prose by reading the works of others.

          9. Tranquility

            In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, it’s possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility. Reading spiritual texts can lower blood pressure and bring about an immense sense of calm, while reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and mild mental illnesses.

            10. Free Entertainment

            Though many of us like to buy books so we can annotate them and dog-ear pages for future reference, they can be quite pricey. For low-budget entertainment, you can visit your local library and bask in the glory of the countless tomes available there for free. Libraries have books on every subject imaginable, and since they rotate their stock and constantly get new books, you’ll never run out of reading materials.

            If you happen to live in an area that doesn’t have a local library, or if you’re mobility-impaired and can’t get to one easily, most libraries have their books available in PDF or ePub format so you can read them on your e-reader, iPad, or your computer screen. There are also many sources online where you can download free e-books, so go hunting for something new to read!

            There’s a reading genre for every literate person on the planet, and whether your tastes lie in classical literature, poetry, fashion magazines, biographies, religious texts, young adult books, self-help guides, street lit, or romance novels, there’s something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination. Step away from your computer for a little while, crack open a book, and replenish your soul for a little while.

            photo credit: Pinterest

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            How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

            How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

            Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

            But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

            Sight – Visual Stimulation

            The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

            1. Maximize your exposure to light.

            Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

            Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

            2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

            Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

            Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

            Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

            3. Take note of your environment.

            Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

            By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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            Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

            What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

            4. Engage in conversation.

            Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

            Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

            Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

            Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

            5. Listen to upbeat music.

            Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

            Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

            Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

            If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

            6. Work your nose.

            Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

            If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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            Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

            Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

            If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

            7. Have a good breakfast.

            Start off with the most important meal of the day.

            Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

            Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

            Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

            20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

            8. Drink lots of water.

            Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

            So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

            How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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            Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

            3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

            9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

            Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

            Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

            Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

            25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

            Touch – Tactile Stimulation

            Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

            10. Splash cold water on your face.

            Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

            This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

            5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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            11. Use acupressure.

            Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

            Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

            12. Get moving.

            Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

            And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

            You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

            Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

            Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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