Anxiety is usually a healthy reaction to stress. Out bodies are hardwired to react this way to protect us from potential threats. However, for someone with an anxiety disorder, this reaction can go from beneficial to overwhelming & debilitating. Roughly 12% of Canadians are affected by anxiety disorders annually.

We have some good news for book-lovers who also struggle with one of the country’s most common mental illness: Reading can be a way to help cope with your anxiety. Here are five benefits of reading:

1: Reading lowers your heart rate, and relaxes you.

While anxiety is classified as a mental disorder, the symptoms manifest physically. These symptoms include high blood pressure and a faster heart rate. Studies have shown that reading is a quick and effective way of lowering your heart rate and easing muscle tension.

2: Reading is an escape.

Running from your problems doesn’t really work, but taking a break from them might just be the thing you need. When you read, you can absorb yourself into another world – even if only for an hour. That hour could be all you need to make it through another day.

3: It can help you be more compassionate.

Being compassionate isn’t always easy. However, studies show that reading can help increase empathy by helping you to view situations from the outside and thus, a new perspective. This doesn’t just benefit the people around you, it also benefits you! Because you need to learn to be compassionate to yourself too.

4: Reading grounds you.

When you read about someone else’s experiences, whether you feel that they are relevant to your life or not, you gain a new perspective. Shifting your thinking this way can also increase your quality of life. When you work through someone else’s problems, you gain a new understanding of how to work through your own. This can help relieve your anxiety in an unmistakable way.

5: Reading is a DE-stressor.

There are studies that have shown that just six minutes of reading can decrease stress levels up to 60%. Reducing the stress in your life and reduce the anxiety in your life.

We aren’t claiming that reading will cure your anxiety. However, by reading,  you can feel better doing something that you already love. Living with anxiety will never be easy, but with a good book by your side, it can be a little bit better.