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Book Review Series: Why reading should still be important to you

So you’ve just finished reading the last chapter of your scary huge textbook, you have to collect and read a pile of research articles, and you have to find time to proof read your 15 page research paper before tomorrow. Academic reading has consumed your life? As a graduate student with year-round school, please trust me when I say ME TOO. When I get home from class at night the LAST thing on my mind is reading a nice book for my mental and emotional health. To be completely frank, I’m so sick of reading that I’ve completely lost touch with how much books used to take care of me. I always feel so conflicted when I pick up a book, thinking “if I have time to read this, that means I have time to catch up on readings for school.” I get in such a weird headspace that I end up putting the book down and doing something else, whether it’s productive or not. I feel like I’m cheating my grades if I start reading for “fun.” This continual pressure is taking away my time to care for myself and I need to make a change. Recently I’ve made a deal with myself that I am going to let books start to take care of me again.

I want to see myself in their characters, I want their stories to make me think about the world, and I want their messages to comfort and ease my soul.

Books are such a magical way to find connection with people and stories without having to leave the comfort of your own thoughts. I love books. I’ve lost touch with what they used to mean to me, and that troubles me beyond words. They are the ultimate daydream. When I want to find a little solitude and enter a new reality where my stresses don’t exist, I read a book. Books have become the enemy and I am not okay with that. I want to renew my relationships with books and let them ease my stresses and soothe my soul.

I will be reading a new book every month and writing a short review about what the book has meant to me, how the book has impacted me, and how it might impact you in some way. Books are for learning. Books are also a form of rejuvenation for your mind and soul. I will be reading the soul hugging kind and recommending some of my favorites to the folks out there like me who have taken an accidental leave of absence from books and want to find enjoyment and fulfillment in them once again. I want to let books take care of me in the way that they used to. If you find yourself making these same remarks or these same excuses, please let me validate for you that you are not the only one. If you’ve recognized your relationships with books needs some attention, I invite you to join me in this new promise of self-care.

If you find some connection between my thoughts and your own experience, let’s meet back here and start a dialogue on the books I have chosen. The first book I am going to read (actually revisit) is a classic comfort read of mine that I just recently re-read as I renewed my commitment to reading: The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I love this book. Meet me here and let me tell you why you would too.

Self Care Ideas

I often talk to my clients about the topic of self-care. Many of my clients aren’t familiar with the term or how to begin applying some self-care in their busy lives. Self- care is individual for each person and it’s a good topic to explore with yourself and your therapist. So what is it exactly?

Self care means choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors: exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing yoga or meditation or relaxation techniques, abstaining from substance abuse, pursuing creative outlets, engaging in psychotherapy.

Also essential to self-care is learning to self-soothe or calm our physical and emotional distress. Remember your mother teaching you to blow on the scrape on your knee? This was an early lesson in self-soothing but many adults really struggle with knowing how to constructively soothe themselves.

If this sounds like something you need to cultivate in your life, I encourage you to try something from the list below and talk to your therapist more about how to incorporate these soothing and caring activities into your life.

 

“Self care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” ~Eleanor Brownn

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                                                                   Self Care Ideas:

o   Working out at the gym

o   Running with the dog

o   Cooking tasty, healthy food

o   Aromatherapy

o   Small gestures of giving to others

o   Doing nothing

o   Silence

o   Yoga

o   Singing

o   Massage

o   Listening to, and playing music

o   Watching a feel-good movie

o   Morning meditation

o   A bath with candles and music

o   Being in a library

o   Buy yourself flowers

o   Window shopping

o   Gardening

o   Playing

o   Spending time outdoors

o   Journal writing

o   Reading a good book

o   Accepting and honoring your feeling

o   Knitting and crocheting

o   Enjoying your first sip of morning coffee or tea

o   Chatting with a friend

o   Cleaning house

o   Baking

o   Aerobic exercise – biking, cross country skiing, swimming

o   Staying calm

o   Sitting by the fire

o   Good dental hygiene

o   Regular health checkups

o   Gratitude journal

o   At bedtime identify the nicest thing that’s happened that day

o   Leaving the computer off

o   Avoiding the newscast

o   Laughing and having fun

o   Inspirational reading

o   Being mindfully aware/in the moment

o   Regular meditation

o   Connect with your spiritual side

o   Hikes in the woods with the dog

o   Making photocards

o   Kayaking and sailing

o   Playing a musical instrument

o   Landscaping

o   Sleeping in

o   Pet’s unconditional love

o   Driving and road trips

o   Walking to and from work

o   Sitting in a sidewalk cafe, drinking a latte

o   Pausing to breathe

o   Time with children

o   Stomping in rain puddles or piles of leaves

o   Validating your colleagues

o   Walking in the grass in bare feet

o   Looking at clouds

o   Letting the warmth of the sun soak into your back or your face

o   Eating chocolate

o   Living with intention

 

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