Could It Help to Pick Up Reading During Recovery?

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Although the ways we read have changed with time, books have been an important part of our culture for well over 1,000 years. Even with modern technology, writing is still the best way to convey information. 

Books can expand your knowledge, take you to distant worlds and invite you into the life experiences of others. All of this can have a powerful effect on your mind. With over 600,000 books being published in the U.S every year, you may be wondering which ones could be beneficial for you. With so many to choose from, it can be a daunting task to find a good one to read. Hopefully, this article will help you narrow it down.  

Empathetic Inspiration of Fiction

During recovery from substance use disorder, inspiration and motivation can both be hard to come by. You may look to hobbies, media, or other activities to help you through difficult days and change your state of mind. Thankfully, there is research to show that reading may be able to change your mindset. Studies have shown that reading fiction can create an empathetic response in the reader. 

By relating yourself to a character, a story can become a simulation in which you can have experiences that you may not have had in your life. This can be especially powerful for those with vivid imaginations. Through this empathetic response, we can find inspiration by seeing characters overcoming challenges. 

Even if you have never defeated a dragon, seeing Bilbo overcome his fears in The Hobbit can make facing your fears less daunting. If you would like to learn a bit more about how fiction can affect the mind, you can do so here.  

Facing Trauma Through Reading 

Since reading has the powerful ability to help you put yourself in the shoes of characters, it also can trigger traumatic memories or emotions. This mechanism can be both a positive and a negative depending on circumstances. On one hand, seeing a character go through some of the same challenges you have faced and overcome them can be helpful in your recovery. This is true both of fictional characters and real people. 

Exposure therapy, for example, is a reputable practice in which trauma patients are exposed to triggers in a controlled and safe environment. The exposure happens over time and is taken slowly at first. This allows the patient to gradually overcome trauma or anxiety triggers by facing them with assistance and care. 

Since writing can be used to expose us to experiences in a unique way, studies are being done to use text as a therapy themselves. Using books, poems, or short stories for treatment is now reffered to as Bibliotherapy.

Although facing our trauma through books has been shown to potentially make you stronger, it is not always a good idea. For example, if you are still going through treatment for substance use disorder, or feel like you are still struggling, being exposed to it may be too much at that time. While in the middle of overcoming something, your mind can be in a state where your mood may change very quickly. In times like these, it can be beneficial to focus on uplifting or exciting content that keeps you motivated. 

There is always time later to come to terms with certain traumas or challenges when you are in a better state of mind. Thankfully, many books can inspire you without bringing up negative emotions. It can be valuable to keep your particular triggers or behavioral cues in mind when selecting a book. 

If you have friends who read frequently or have access to a local library, you can always ask if a certain book contains what you want to avoid (while not being spoiled). There are also many online forums about books where you can ask the same questions.   

How to Pick Up Reading as a Hobby

Now that you know a few of the many ways reading can help our minds, you may still be wondering where and how to start. First, select a format. No one format is better than the other, but some people prefer reading physical copies while others prefer reading on a phone or tablet. There are also poems and short stories as alternatives to books. 

Once that is sorted, ask yourself what types of topics you find yourself interested in. When it comes to fiction, there is fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction. If there is a certain aspect of science or history you enjoy, non-fiction writing may be great for you. It all depends on what you are the most passionate about. Many famous people you may look up to also have biographies written by them or about them. 

Once you find some material, there are many websites or forums to find spoiler-free reviews and discussions, which can help you connect with others. There are even book clubs where you read a book alongside others and speak on your favorite and least favorite parts. 

When you begin reading, do not feel like you have to read a multitude of pages at once. Even though it can be used for therapeutic reasons, the most important thing of all is that reading is enjoyable. 

Reading can be a great way to get your mind off of negative emotions and exercise your brain. You can get the benefits of reading even if you only read ten pages a day. It is all about what fits you the best. Hopefully reading, alongside treatment and therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, can help on your journey.  

Many hobbies can benefit us during recovery, but reading is certainly one of the most holistic. It can be fun, therapeutic, and benefit the mind through a form of mental exercise. Reading can also serve as a source of inspiration during difficult times when it can be hard to come by. Whether it is a biography, a poem, or a fantasy novel, there is something out there for everyone. Even though reading can be very beneficial, it cannot replace treatment, but merely aid in recovery. If you or someone you love is going through substance use disorder, Everlast Recovery Centers is here to help. At our facilities located in sunny southern California, we offer treatment in an environment meant to make you feel comfortable and at home. Our staff is caring and qualified to understand your unique situation and give you the best chance of success possible. Call us today at (866) 338-6925 to learn more. 

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