Reading as Self Care

There’s a lot going on in the world, friends. From the injustices at the U.S. border, to flooding in the Midwest, to rising tensions with Iran and the earthquakes in nearby Ridgecrest…at times, it can get pretty overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. And, if you’re like me, even for a life-long reader, reading may be falling by the wayside in the face of the—well, of the deluge of news.

In times like these, it can be important to hold on to the things that give you joy and, if you’re a book lover, you probably already know that reading is definitely one of those things. Curling up with a book can provide an opportunity to unplug, and a temporary escape into an entirely different world. It allows us to experience a different setting, point of view, and place in time.

A few hours in a novel, without checking Twitter or Instagram (as great [and terrible]) as they are, can actually help rewire your brain. flexing those deep reading muscles that we don’t use while skimming the latest New York Times article or Mashable post. Reading is also a high-empathy workout—when we read about characters, experiencing their worldview (so to speak), actually lights up the areas of the brain associated with those kinds of experiences. Having that empathetic connection in a low-stakes way like reading can help recharge our emotional batteries, too, giving us ways to build up our sense of trust in and goodwill for others when we’re feeling in need of retreat or solitude.

So what do you need to read as an act of self care?

A book you actually WANT to read, for starters! Whether it’s a novel or short stories, poems or nonfiction, pick something you’re excited to crack open.

Find a cozy place to settle, and make a space that feels good to you. We like having a couch to stretch out on, or a comfy chair with a side table for TBR piles and snacks.

Grab snacks and/or drinks. Consuming food can be grounding, and also who hasn’t had the impulse to get a drink or a snack right after you sit down? Tea, or coffee, or chocolate, or popcorn or whatever else floats your boat!

If you feel particularly compelled to check notifications, i can also be really helpful to silence the phone or set it in another room during reading time. Because smartphones have so much capacity and contain so much information about our lives, they create a constant sense of obligation, and leaving the phone outside your field of vision can really help with mentally unplugging from your surroundings and diving into a book.

And finally, just do it! Self care may be on the rise in many forms, and it’s important to find whatever methods work for you. And this weekend, you can find us curled up with a cup of hot cocoa and Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes a River. Or maybe Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends. Or—hey!—maybe even both

IMG_1415.JPG

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

—Audre Lorde