Sure, you love reading thriller books. But is it good for you? What if I told you that yes, reading fiction is actually as beneficial to reducing stress as meditating? What if I proved to you that reading for fun is not only good for your mental health but also your physical health?
It’s all true. So, if you needed another reason to pick up a good novel, you’ve got one. An article published in The New Yorker states:
“Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.” Ceridwen Dovey,The New Yorker Magazine
Why Reading Thrillers is Healthy for You
There are a few reasons why reading thrillers in particular are healthy for you.
Empathy Thrillers are very emotional books. Often it can feel like you, as the reader, are on a roller coaster. (I wrote a previous post about the differences between thrillers, suspense and mystery books that you might want to check out.) This is great when life serves you a problem that you feel completely overwhelmed by. Slip between the pages of a well-written thriller and you’ll forget all about your own issues…at least for a little while.
Excitement Thriller books are also great for adding excitement to our lives. Hit a dull patch? Feel like you’re in a period of waiting? Diving into a thriller can help get your mind off of whatever it is that’s making you feel antsy.
Escape This sums up most fiction reading nicely, doesn’t it? Whether you’re stressed about money or your kid’s behavior, the strange habit your dog has taken up or a supervisor who l-o-v-e-s to push your buttons, losing yourself in a good thriller novel can help you cope. I like to call it “getting your fiction fix”. Of course it goes without saying that if you’re struggling with a big or long-lasting problem chances are that it’s not going to get better by ignoring it. Escaping occasionally can be healing. Escaping all the time? That could be dangerous for your health.
Can Reading Thrillers Be a Method of Self-Care?
Self-care burnout is real, people. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by taking care of yourself “perfectly” you’re not alone. This article via Healthline is a fascinating look at why the things we think we “should” be doing to promote self-care may backfire…and what to do instead.
“Your self-care doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It doesn’t need to have a hashtag. It just needs to be whatever makes you feel good.” Kristi Pahr, Healthline
I thought this idea, and the article itself, were really insightful. Reading fiction for me has often been a form of self-care…if you define self-care as doing something lovely that you enjoy very much.
Sure, it can be taken too far. I used to check out of reality for HOURS a day, sometimes reading an entire book in one long sitting when I was a kid/teen, ignoring everything and everyone around me. But if I ever have the opportunity to choose between meditation and reading a great thriller? The book wins, hands down.
Get Healthier: Read a Thriller Novel
I’m sure I’m not the only one this happens to. You sit down after a long day with a book. You’ve been looking forward to these few precious minutes to read all day. As soon as you curl your feet up underneath you on the couch, someone inevitably walks into the room, sees you and asks, “What are you doing?”
Now, first of all it should be obvious what you’re doing. Unless you’re secretly using the book as a shield while you pick your nose or shove chocolates into your mouth, it’s likely that you are r-e-a-d-i-n-g.
So, here’s a fun idea. Next time this happens tell whoever asks, “I’m meditating”. And then go happily back to your book, content in the knowledge that you’re doing something healthy for your body and your brain.
What are your favorite reasons to enjoy a thriller book? And how often do you indulge yourself? Please let me know in the comments.