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How is Reading Good for your Mental Health?

How is reading good for your mental health and intentional self care?


I think that reading is an important tool when it comes to mental health and intentional self care. But let’s start with some terms- What is intentional self care?


Intentional self care is self care with the objective of maintaining and improving your overall health and wellness. It isn’t bubble baths and spa days- although those can definitely be part of it. Intentional self care goes far beyond just feeling good, and it really focuses on whole person wellness, acknowledging that wellness sometimes hurts and it is hard, and doesn’t always feel good. All with the intention of living a better life tomorrow than today… every single day. 


Hi my name is Kaylin, I am a holistic wellness coach and I help overwhelmed millennials evolve from burnout to balanced through intentional self care practices. 


Let’s get back to why reading is good for your mental health, and you might be wondering how reading fits into the idea of intentional self care.


I used to love reading when I was younger... I was super into the Boxcar Children, Goosebumps, and the Babysitters Club. In high school, I remember having to read Siddhartha and Lord of the Flies, both of which changed my perspective on life. And of course I was the girl with a huge crush on Holden Caulfield… which unfortunately played out in my actual dating life. I just loved those angsty, rebellious and irresponsible men. 


Toward the end of high school and into college, I just… lost interest in reading. I think it finally became more important for me to be with my friends than to be alone with a book. It was a long time before I fell back in love with reading again. 


In my 20s I was far too occupied with drinking too much and nursing hangovers to bother with books.


In graduate school, I spent so much time reading textbooks that my eyes hurt and couldn’t handle anything beyond that.


After that, I slowly started back up again, but the only things that could hold my attention were in the self development genre.


Which is honestly fine, as a therapist and coach, it's all helpful information. I was always just glad to be reading for fun again. But then I realized that reading self help books to go to sleep wasn’t doing me any favors. Since this is the kind of work I do every day, it was keeping my brain in work mode even as I was trying to go to sleep. So, I finally started to challenge myself to read more novels. To read more love stories and dive into fantasy worlds  and to start to build relationships with characters again (and stop waiting on Holden Caulfield to grow up and ask me out already HA). 


Now, I have anywhere from 1-3 books going at any given time. Audiobooks, self development books, and novels. They all serve different moods and purposes and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It must be the ADHD, Mani-gen in me.


So how can reading be good for your mental health as a part of your intentional self care?


  • Reading gives you a chance to slow down and stay off of screens for a while. 

  • Reading takes you out of your own thoughts and experiences and helps you build empathy for others.

  • If you’re reading self development, it gives you insight into your own thoughts and behaviors patterns and helps you to understand yourself and others more. 

  • Reading helps reduce stress.

  • Reading can improve your focus.

  • And my favorite - Reading can improve your sleep hygiene (i.e. help you with better sleep!!)


And, something you might not expect to hear from a wellness coach-

  • Reading can provide you with a good distraction from your troubles. 


Here’s the thing.  Wellness and self improvement is hard work. It takes courage to look at yourself in the ways that are required to maintain good mental health. Sometimes a distraction is the exact break that you need to gain clarity. Or, just to take a damn break. 


Even when it comes to wellness and mental health- you don’t always have to be working so hard. 


All of those are fantastic reasons to add reading for mental health into your intentional self care routine, if you ask me. 


If you want to take it one step further, and get some support: I started a book club this year to help people get back into reading. It’s all personal development focused books, and I am absolutely LOVING IT. 


At the time of writing this, February 2024, our book this month is The Mountain is You by Brianna Weist, about self sabotage. And let me tell you- I’m not even done with the book yet and it is absolutely life changing. This is another benefit of reading for mental health- you don't have to do much to gain a new perspective on life and feel like a completely different person at the end of your book. 


The thing I love most about having a book club is the community. Reading is no longer a solitary thing I do (except when I want it to be). I get to surround myself with people who value and prioritize their own wellness and mental health. I know that I will always have people to talk to about the great books I am reading and the things I am learning, and that is something really special to me.


I have always felt like an outcast in the sense that I have outgrown a lot of people. I work on myself a lot, and a lot of people choose to stay stuck. Eventually, we go our separate ways. There is loss in each of those relationships, but I would also never choose to stay stuck just to keep people around.I would rather have them grown with and beside me.


If you want to know more about the book club, click here.

If you decide to join, use the code BLOG for half off your first month. Just because I can. 


In summary, reading is an important tool to use in your intentional self care. Reading is good for mental health and has many internal and external benefits to add to your life. 


Hey, if you’re already a reader or you have some favorite books you want to share, please send an email to hello@kzcounseling and let me know, from one book lover to another!




Kaylin in a white tee shirt with a soft background, smiling at the camera and arms folded over one another

Kaylin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Holistic Wellness Coach. 

She helps high achieving millennials move from burnout to balance through her coaching programs and book club. 


Kaylin’s goal in doing what she does is to help high achievers continue to reach their goals, without the burn out and overwhelm. 


Learn more here and schedule a consultation call to work with Kaylin.




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