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'A poem a day keeps the gloom away': reading and wellbeing
During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Scottish Book Trust set out to discover what impact the lockdown was having on readers in Scotland.
We recruited a panel of people living in Scotland to complete regular surveys about their experiences of reading between March and August 2020. The full report, Reading in Scotland: Reading over lockdown(this will open in a new window) is available to read now.
Throughout the study it was clear that that the majority of the panel found reading important to their wellbeing:
- 98% agreed that reading supports their wellbeing
- 97% agreed that reading helps them to relax
- 92% agreed that reading has been important to them in times of stress or anxiety throughout their lives
'A poem a day keeps the doom away'
Reading can be a comfort, an escape and even help us get a good night's sleep. Many of the readers on our panel told us how reading had been helping them to cope through the lockdown:
- 'I find it as essential as my daily walk to take a mental break from the current situation'
- 'I am being reminded of the positive power of reading and what I've been missing as my reading has slowed down so much over the last few years. It is transformational'
- 'I use audiobooks when I suffer from insomnia or panic attacks to help calm me'
There are lots of ways you can build reading into your day to create some moments of calm:
- Evenings are the most popular time to read, with 86% of our panel reporting reading at bedtime. Reading can help your brain get ready to sleep, even if you only read for ten minutes
- If you're not commuting at the moment, book-end your working day with a chapter or a short story to ease you in and out of work mode
- It's a good idea to get away from your desk and out into the sunlight as much as possible. Try a stroll with an audiobook to give your brain and body a proper break
Each week our panel shared reading tips for us to share. Some of our favourite wellbeing tips include:
- 'Be kind to yourself. Take comfort in a familiar read and don’t worry about choosing something ‘easier’ than you’re used to. A wee bit of reading is better than no reading at all'
- 'Pick what you read more carefully if you are struggling with sleep or anxiety. I'm going to go back to reading more children's fiction'
- 'Reading has to be rewarding, especially in a time like this. Some people I know are pushing themselves to read things that they have been struggling with for years, but I don’t think that is helpful when there are so many other challenges at the moment'