Our Mental Health & Reading Habits

Posted July 22, 2015 by Pixie in Imaginative Discussions, Pixie / 3 Comments

Most people, when they’re sick (flus, colds, etc.) they don’t want to do much of anything when it comes to normal activities– or they may lag a bit at least on their well-liked activities until they’re better and can get back to a regular schedule. I’m almost sure at least everyone can relate with this at some time in their lives.

But there’s a real difference between physical illness and mental illness. Mental health, in any state, is just as important to take care of as our physical health. And when any bit of it is just slightly off, we can feel these effects in a number of ways, through many forms, and it will affect how we do or do not handle our normal activities as well.

Of course, I haven’t met everyone in the blogging community (yet!), but many bloggers I have met or chatted with through the years, I’ve learned that they either deal with anxiety and/or panic, depression, is an introvert or extreme shyness, stresses easy, etc. All of this contributes to their mental well-being, and while they are not at a constant state with these, there are harder times or struggles than others–days when they can’t explain why they feel worse, when they were probably feeling just fine the day before. I relate. I understand battles like this.

Pixie, what does any of this have to do with reading??

It has everything to do with reading.

Most times, when I hear about anyone who deals with any kind of mental illness or has dealt with it, has been through any kind of emotional trauma, or is simply an introvert-type personality/deals with extreme shyness, I also find out they’re avid readers. They usually had started their reading habits at a younger age when first trying to just find a quiet, simple activity that didn’t require any interaction. Reading also provides a fantasy world, this escape from reality that many really crave.

While it may have started someone on a path of books, for someone else it may be a different approach or with each book. Each individual takes their ‘attacks’ with a varying view. Through the years, I’ve seen my own habits vary whenever I get hit by anxiety/stress/depression. There have been moments where all I wanted to do was lock myself up in a room of books of a particular genre, with particular characters, until I couldn’t focus on the pages anymore. And then times when I didn’t want to pick up a book, no matter if it was by my favorite author or not, for months because the desire wasn’t there.

 

So, here’s the big question:

Should someone, blogger/reviewer/avid reader, that deals with any mental illness through life be forced- or force themselves- to be on a specific schedule for reading?

There’s always some kind of small schedule in blogging, despite how you decide to read for the year. I think it’s necessary to keep up the posts and followers. But the biggest concern for anyone dealing with anxiety, depression, stress, etc. is probably feeling forced reading books they don’t want to read at that time in their mindset. It’s usually hard to get the motivation to do much of anything, but then the guilt weighs in more. Maybe forced schedules are good. But easy and light, gentle, until the person is well enough to add more to it themselves. Don’t make them feel like you are pushing too hard, too fast. Many times if I force myself TOO much with books when my mind isn’t quite in the right place, I will dislike or even DNF books quite often that turns out to be favorites much later down the road when I give them another try (in a better state). That’s why I often recommend being careful with the forced schedules, at the least on the lighter side of it.

Reading habits are an important thing to note while considering a schedule. When you are at your “lows” and you do pick up the occasional book, which genre do you gravitate toward most? Do you also find yourself in any other particular patterns to make note on? Certain authors you’d normally read, but stay away from during these times? All of these things I’d say to consider when crafting together a reading schedule. Even if it’s a small one, give yourself at least two-three books in a month to have read (if you’d read 5-6 or more on a normal basis).

 

But most importantly: It’s not just about reader habits. It’s about reader health. If you don’t feel mentally healthy and ready for that 600-page book, don’t sit and worry about letting everyone down just because you may not read it right away or read it in the way you normally would. Take care of you. Take care with those books. 🙂

 

Pixie Sig Plant

3 responses to “Our Mental Health & Reading Habits

  1. I have had times in my life where I could not read a single page of a book. Bouts of depression and they are scary. And books are not a priority then

  2. Very interesting topic and one that should be discussed more if you as me!

    I’m definitely an introvert and shy so I love the escape blogging and reading provides. But I agree that reading on a schedule can be very stressful and that it can impact my reading enjoyment at times.

    When I feel stressed out about meeting deadlines, I step away from the book and reassess. I ask myself some questions to see if it really is important that I read it now or could I pick it up later. If I decide to drop it, I go for a romance novel because they aren’t too heavy plot wise and they don’t require too much brain capacity. Helps me get back into the groove of things!

    And let me just say that blog post scheduling is the greatest! Relieves a lot of stress knowing I have post scheduled well in advance.
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  3. This is a great post. I have struggled with depression in the past and I definitely see the correlation between that and my love of reading. There have been times with blogging that I feel a bit of internalized pressure, whether it’s because of ARCs I have received or trying to come up with ideas for discussion posts. I have to remind myself the reason why I blog to begin with: mainly for the community and to be able to share my love of books with everyone else. I have had to take a small step back from the blog before and go a week or so without posting. That always helps. 🙂
    Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books recently posted…BOOK REVIEW: Two Boys Kissing by David LevithanMy Profile

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