Coping Skill: #58. Reading

Menu at The Eagle and Child

Menu at The Eagle and Child with Tolkien and Lewis met

No matter where I go, there is one item that I bring at least one of in my purse: books. These are helpful ways to engage your mind and learn. Also, they can be amazingly helpful for coping with stress, pain, awkward situations, and much more. In fact, reading is probably the main healthy skill that I use for dealing with life.

Books provide many benefits for those who struggle with mental illness or who do not. When you allow yourself to be sucked into a story, you are able to travel to new places and meet new people. Because of this, you come out understanding the world around you better. Every time that I open a magazine or book, I find myself learning more about others as well as who I am.

However, reading can be difficult for some people. Racing thoughts caused by anxiety or ADHD can make it hard to focus on the words on the page. Dyslexia and other learning disorders make the process of reading stressful and laborious. Yet, watching my siblings and others that I know with these struggles has shown me that enjoyment from reading is still possible even with these obstacles. You simply need to be patient with yourself and read books that really interest you.

Several times, I have mentioned the word “books” in this post. However reading of any type of material can be a helpful coping skill. Find what you most need in the moment (or what is available) and allow that to distract you, comfort you, or help you in another way.

One of the great aspects of reading is that you can find material to help you in any mood. Every reader will respond differently to the story that they encounter. There can be common themes though. Here are some ideas for what types of material or genres to read when you are feeling a certain way:

  • Depressed and need a smile – try a humorous book or comics such as Hyperbole and a Half, Calvin and Hobbes, or Darth Vader and Son
  • Anxious and need to calm down – try soothing poetry or photography book such as The Poetry of Robert Frost, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, or Sublime Nature: Photographs that Awe and Inspire
  • Despairing and need hope – try an inspirational biography or book of quotes such as Great Love: The Mary Jo Copeland Story, A Wonderful Life: 50 Eulogies to Lift the Spirit, or Walt Disney: Famous Quotes
  • Bored and need interest – try an educational magazine or fact book such as National Geographic, Why Do Pandas Do Handstands?, or The Book of General Ignorance
  • Frightened and need reassuring – try a uplifting fiction or true stories of survivors such as The Timekeeper, Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul books, or Reader’s Digest stories

There are a few ideas to get you started. I would love to hear some of your suggestions and how reading has been a helpful (or unhelpful) coping skill.

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6 thoughts on “Coping Skill: #58. Reading

  1. Marie says:

    Reading is a great coping skill! As you said, it can be hard at times, but when you can accomplish it – it helps so much!

  2. Reading is definitely one of my favorite coping skills! A trip to the bookstore and treating myself to a new book can help me get through almost anything! Movies are also great… and sometimes movies work better for me, if I am unable to calm down enough in order to focus on reading.

  3. onceuponaurora says:

    I used to be an avid reader and a prolific writer. I still try to make time to write, but I can’t focus on reading much of anything except blog posts. As they once said on Monty Python, my brain hurts! Too much time spent on work and trying to keep the household functional, I suppose!
    And then I forget what I was going to write just as I started writing it…sigh.
    Thank you for visiting us at The Netherworld. We really appreciate it! All of our team members live with mental illness. My particular brand is depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. I don’t take any psych meds, only natural supplements, which do help but I’m grateful for the coping methods I’ve learned over the years. Because of them, I’ve been able to hold down a job in the same place for almost 20 years.

    • That is so wonderful that you have been able to find skills and supplements to help cope! Thank you so much for reading this post. It is hard to focus on reading for many people, but I hope that reading blogs can be helpful to you. 🙂

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