Reading Helps You Cope with Anxiety

April 12, 2016 Julia Banim

Reading helps me cope with my anxiety. Books have long provided a much longed for escape for me during my most anxious times. It has always been a great relief to think that in the space of a few moments, I could be coping with anxiety by reading. Reading lets me inhabit the thought processes of another person when the sheer, everyday business of living with anxiety and depression becomes all-consuming. When communicating adequately in real life feels like an impossible pursuit, I have found that reading allows me to find the right words for the feelings that all too often I bury deep inside. Reading helps me cope with anxiety in many other ways, too.

When Coping With Anxiety, Reading Connects You to Others

When I was little and frightened to be alone in at night, reading under the covers helped me to tackle the sense of dread and helplessness that I felt at the endless, uncaring night sky beyond my window. Books were a way to know that I could never really be alone. As I grew older and learned how you could feel alone even when surrounded by people, books remained a constant and enduring companion. Anxiety can, at times, make you feel terribly isolated and separate from rest of the world. It is a great comfort, as a person interested in reading and writing, that you are part of something larger that yourself, that you share a special connection with others.

Perhaps most importantly of all, books help you become yourself, which is particularly important for anxiety sufferers. As a former literature student and long time bookworm, I first learnt to define myself by the books that changed me and the writers that I felt a kinship with, even during times when I felt unsure of my own identity. The social and political issues that I care most deeply about are so closely embedded in my heart because of the books that have moved me beyond apathy.

Give Yourself Space to Read for Coping with Anxiety

Reading helps you cope with anxiety. Reading takes you away from anxious thoughts and benefits mental health. Reading helps you cope with anxiety, but how?

Nowadays, admittedly, there are numerous ways to attempt to block out internal anguish. In the age of the Internet, it is easy to become engrossed in distracting clickbait articles or the mundane Facebook feeds of acquaintances. However, I would argue that deep reading is still the most worthwhile and productive way to organise chaotic, anxious thoughts. With anxiety, introspective and repetitive thoughts can plague even the most mindful of us. Reading helps you to see outside yourself, to focus. This is vital when suffering from anxiety and depression when the world can seem to close around you, suffocatingly so.

I know how hard it is to find the time to read, even for the most seasoned book lover. Reading is all too often not viewed to be a priority, despite it being extremely beneficial for working towards good mental health. I work full time and write in the evenings. I know how hard it can be to squeeze in quality reading time in between social and family commitments. I know how the everyday concerns can cloud your thinking and make you believe that reading is an inconsequential hobby.

However, setting aside even small amounts of time to read can lift your mood. For me, I make sure to always have a book in my handbag during my daily commute back and forth to work. I also make sure to think about time constructively. Whenever I find myself lost in a looping thought process or scrolling zombie-like through my Facebook feed, I make sure to pick up a book and use my time productively instead. Life can be very difficult and complicated and even painful. All too often we do find ourselves running on autopilot, detached from ourselves and the world. However, in my experience, nobody understands the frustrations of trying to piece life together in a way that makes sense more so than writers, and those of us who read to cope with anxiety appreciate them.

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APA Reference
Banim, J. (2016, April 12). Reading Helps You Cope with Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Julia Banim

January, 27 2019 at 6:45 am

Good article, thank you. I will try that for a couple of weeks and see if it helps to keep anxiety away.

August, 11 2016 at 4:32 pm

What I have always loved about reading was the way it could whisk me away to an entirely different world from my own. Even if it was nonfiction, I would be transported in time or space to whatever topic I was reading about. It has always made me feel better, from childhood to adulthood. Thank you for sharing.

Sheila Bergquist
April, 14 2016 at 2:35 am

I love to read too and it helps me with my anxiety and depression. And it is so true that it makes us feel less alone. And I love what you said about it letting you find the right words for your feelings. Great article!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Julia Banim
April, 16 2016 at 5:59 am

Thank you Sheila! :) I am glad that you can relate... is such a comforting feeling to know that as a reader you are part of a wider community of likeminded people. Julia x

April, 13 2016 at 11:15 pm

Reading helps. That is unless you read Animal Farm or 1984. Then paranoia strikes! Reading helps depending upon what you are reading.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Julia Banim
April, 16 2016 at 6:05 am

Hi John! Very true!! Although I do strangely find that dystopian fiction in particular can be a truly great escape... can really transport you to another (terrifying) world! Julia x

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