Mental Health and Reading - Why is it important?

Updated: 3 days ago

Top 5 Self-Help and Recovery Books

It’s mental health awareness month! Let us celebrate this May and all the forthcoming months by taking care of our mental health, however we can. This article is one of those guides to help you, our beloved readers!

Mental health has been long recognized as a bane to society - as a problem for a selected few. Why would you need to be mentally healthy? Shouldn't you should be healthy as you are?

Thankfully, that conception is starting to fade. Mental health requires care and nutrition, just like physical health. Owing to the endless pursuits of psychologists and mental health activists around the globe, easier access to information, literary development of societies - people now recognize mental wellbeing as a part of life, not just as a need for a selected few.

How Does Reading Benefit Our Mental Health?

There are plenty of ways one could go about taking care of their mental health. For some people, it’s listening to music. For some, it’s through doing the work they love. Although everyone is different, there are certain methods of self-care which are common for all humans. Reading is one of those activities!

We read all the time. You may think you aren’t a reader, but you’re always reading posts on social media, signs on the street, even thinking with words in your mind. Reading is essential in our daily lives.

But how important is it for mental health? Well, this 2012 study suggested that reading group participants in these experiments have had a reduction in several depressive symptoms over a period of just two weekly readings for twelve months. Also known as bibliotherapy, reading for mental therapy is not quite uncommon. Its scientifically proven that reading automatically stimulates brain activity, along with facilitating human traits like empathy, as this study shows.

Additionally, reading text which is written solely for self-care has extra benefits. You automatically receive the neurological benefits mentioned above, plus cognitively learn more about self-care, self-love, and your own psychology. Don’t believe us? Take it from this research, which had explored the relationship between mental health and self-help reading materials.

Our top 5 Mental Health and self-care books

You may be interested in getting into reading for its mental benefits, or you may already be a reader and are looking for self-help books. Do not worry if you are either one of those, as we have prepared a list of our 5 favorite self-help books! You can read these books regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced reader.

1) It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

The first book in our list, It Didn’t Start With You, dives deep into the mysteries of trauma and mental conditions. Mark Wolynn, the author, aims to explore how all our unexplainable issues can be both environmentally and genetically inherited. Even if the story has been forgotten, silenced, or the person who suffered the original trauma has passed away - memory and feelings can still live on.

This book provides pathways in how these feelings can be healed, through developing genograms, a map of experiences, visualization, active imagination, and direct dialogue.

The defining statement of this entire book would be “...when we try to resist feeling something painful, we often protract the very pain we’re trying to avoid… The emotions, traits, and behaviors we reject in our parents will likely live on in us. It’s our unconscious way of loving them, a way to bring them back into our lives.”. These words are quite powerful, and gives an insight into the juxtaposition of human psychology; avoidance of pain can sometimes do the exact opposite.

Mark Wolynn is the director of The Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco. He has taught at several reputable universities and institutions all over the United States. He has also trained at clinics and published articles across the most popular psychology-based websites such as Psychology Today, Psych Central, and the New York Times.

It Didn’t Start With You won a 2016 Nautilus Book Award in psychology. It is currently ranked #4 in Amazon’s Popular Psychology Counseling list. This book is 256 pages long and was published in 2017. It has a rating of 4.7/5, with over 4200 ratings.

2) Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Essentially, we are born alone, and we die alone. And that’s not a bad thing. Taking care of ourselves regardless of whether we’re alone or not is the primary objective of mental wellbeing. However, this realization of loneliness can be daunting for many and they reach out for company. Having company is human, but that company should never turn into codependency.

Codependency can manifest in various forms, starting from feeling the need to tend to someone else’s problems, or from wanting someone to help you with yours. This book aims to help you understand all these forms and alleviate yourself from them through self-care, instructive life stories, personal reflections, exercises, and self-tests. All of these are laid down in the book beautifully, to help you achieve mental independence. You can help both yourself and others invaluably, only when you are mentally independent.

“When you're doing what's right for you, it's okay to say it once, simply, and then refuse to discuss anything further”, is a statement that rings in my mind from this book. It epitomizes how codependency should not violate mental independence.

This book is #1 on Amazon’s Substance Abuse Recovery list. Melody Beattle is one who does not carry fancy certifications but countless life experiences. Through these books, she has been sharing all the things she learned from these life experiences. Codependent No More is 229 pages long and was published in 1986. It has a rating of 4.7/5, with a whopping 10,400 ratings!

3) Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol

Alcoholism is one of the most common hindrances of human growth, hidden under the veil of recreation. One may not appear to be an alcoholic, yet it’s highly possible that alcohol plays a significant role in their lives. This is common in most societies, and has been accepted as the norm for too long.

Quit Like A Woman challenges our views towards alcohol consumption in general. This may seem like a conservative or religious view towards life, but it’s actually not. One may ask, “Why wouldn’t a person drink?”.