Welcome back for my second post in my “How I Cope” series!
Last week, I talked about how exercise improves my anxiety disorder. This week, I’ll be talking about the affect reading has on my anxiety disorder.
In grade school, I was always the quiet girl. Academically, I was successful. Socially, however, I struggled. Not only that, I was almost always worried about something, whether it was a test, an argument with a friend, or not being able to meet the teacher’s expectations.
As I got older, I continued to worry a lot. I also felt more and more misunderstood and lonely. Reading was how I coped with my social difficulties, my worries, and my feelings of being misunderstood. At first, it gave me the opportunity to get a break from life. As I got older, it gave me the opportunity to read about characters who were also highly misunderstood; it helped me to feel less alone in my struggles.
After getting these much-needed breaks from life, it’s easier for me to confront my disorder and my feelings. It comforts me to know that there’s someone out there that feels the way I do, even if they’re only fictional.
Now, I can hear some of you groaning things like “I don’t like to read!” And I get it. For some people, reading is a chore that you swore you would never do again after you graduated from high school or college. Others never experienced the joy found in a pile of books. Still others associate reading with tedious assignments and nerve-wracking oral reports and tests.
Believe it or not, you can enjoy reading again. The nice thing about being an adult is that if you don’t like a book, you don’t have to finish it. And whether you enjoy a book or not, you’re not going to be tested over it. No one’s expecting you to hand in a book report.
If you’ve never enjoyed reading, it’s not too late to experience that joy. Even if you think you’re too busy, I’ll show you how to incorporate it into your schedule.
As an anxious bookworm, here are my tips for (re)capturing the joy of reading, as well as incorporating it into your self-care routine:
- First, think about the subjects that you’re passionate about. You’ll be more likely to finish a book if it’s about a subject you enjoy.
- Start off with a short book. Picking up a short book is a good way to get back into reading; you’ll likely feel encouraged and motivated to continue reading.
- Remember that you don’t have to finish a book. If you’re not enjoying a book, and if it seems like a chore, then STOP READING IT! You’re not a failure if you don’t finish a book. Besides, reading should be something that you do for enjoyment. If you continue to read a book you hate, you will continue to reinforce your belief that reading is bad/boring/a chore/etc.
- Consider stopping by the library. Checking out library books is a budget-friendly alternative to buying brand-new books. If you’re struggling to pick out a book, you can ask a librarian for recommendations. Also, if you don’t like the book you’re reading, you don’t waste any money.
- Consider audiobooks. Audiobooks are great, especially if you’re short on time or you have a condition that makes reading print material difficult. The nice thing about audiobooks is that you can listen to them while doing other things, such as doing chores, commuting to work, and waiting at the doctor’s office.
Reading can be an excellent way to relax and cope with your anxiety. Even if you’ve never enjoyed reading in school, you can enjoy reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is a different experience from reading for school. Try it out; see what you think. Within the pages of a book, there’s a new world to discover.
What’s your favorite book? Leave your answer in the comments below.