Good morning. I hope you’re all doing well. It’s another Friday, another Let’s Talk Bookish, this time concerning the relationship between books and mental health. As always, Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by me and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.
As I said, today’s topic is: How Reading Affects Mental Health (suggested by Kristin @ Lukten Av Trykksverte)
Before we get started, I did want to share once again the LTB feedback form that I posted last week. It’s completely anonymous, and will only take you a minute to fill out, so please do share your suggestions and general feedback on how LTB is doing for you. Thank you!
Also, I didn’t do last Friday’s topic (what makes you pick up a book; thank you to Rafaela for suggesting it!), partly because I feel like I’ve talked about it quite a bit, and partly because I got busy and just forgot about it, so my apologies. I’ll be including the linkup for that down below with this week’s participants as well.
And I think that’s all for announcements. So, let’s get started!
In what ways does reading affect your mental health?
This is a very interesting question because I don’t think, or I don’t know if reading really affects my mental health that much.
I can’t really think of any specific times where it very negatively or positively impacted me. In general, books do make me feel happy, and they can be wonderful stress relievers (and inducers if I’m procrastinating) that make a bad day feel better.
Sometimes, I do get depressed a little bit if I read historical fiction with a lot of sad harsh realities, especially with books set during the World Wars. That’s really the only subject in books that I think negatively impacts me. I don’t know if I can say it impacts my mental health, because I’m fine a few hours or a day later, but it’s one of the few genres that truly breaks my heart and leaves me feeling miserable.
And again, it’s only select historical fiction books that have done that.
Also, I know I say that certain characters in fantasies break my heart or I’m melodramatic about them, but it’s rare, that I’ll actually cry over them or be depressed about them (I can think of exactly 3 characters from fantasies that I’ve actually shed tears over). Yes, I love them dearly, and it does pain me to see what they go through, but I think that because they’re completely made up and in fantasy worlds, it doesn’t feel the same way that a historical fiction novel does.
Historical fiction feels different because it’s usually based on real events, so it hurts even more because this is a fictionalized account of what someone out there actually went through. I’m a very empathetic person, and to know that somebody had to suffer that much and sacrifice so much in this real world, that is definitely going to hit different compared to a fake character in a made up world.
That’s just how it is for me.
So, to get back to the question, yes, I think certain books and situations do affect my mental health, though usually it’s positive because it makes me feel better, but there are instances when it does make me feel worse.
How do you find a balance to keep up with reading while being mindful of your mental health?
Y’all, I don’t think balance is really in my dictionary when it comes to books. When it comes to anything really.
I’m not necessarily mindful of my mental health? I don’t know how to explain it. I know it’s there, but it’s not like I pay much attention to it, or think of it as something to measure or consider on a daily basis.
I just have my ups and downs, occasional meltdowns, occasional super-happy days, and that’s really all there is to it.
With reading, I think I just know when it’s time to switch genres, or I just crave a certain genre, so I read it and move on. For instance, earlier this month, I was craving contemporaries so I read a bunch of those, and now I’m possibly in a historical mood.
I just know for certain what I don’t want to read (fantasies are making me annoyed for some reason right now) and so I stay away from it.
Is it because my subconscious knows that that’s not the best thing for me to read right now? I don’t know. Lol, I haven’t really thought about this before.
Do triggers, bookish controversies, and things like that affect your health a lot more than you let on?
Ok, I’m a little more sure about the answer to this question.
I think trigger warnings are something I need to look into more, especially when I’m in a “sad” cycle just so that I can know if the next book I’m going to pick up is going to add to my already dreadful feeling. Sometimes it’s just better to know what bad things to expect in a book so you can prepare yourself to not be as affected by them.
Bookish controversies for sure affect me, especially when it’s something related to cancel culture. Honestly, cancel culture terrifies me. It really does. I know on a level that I really shouldn’t worry about it because I do my best to stay out of drama and I’m usually late to those discussions anyway since I don’t learn about them as soon as they happen.
But just hearing about authors being cancelled, or people being bullied by the toxic world out there makes me afraid at times to just talk about what I want, and it makes me a little paranoid that someone might somehow misunderstand my intentions or what I said and then I’m going to be the one being cancelled.
Logically, I know that the likelihood of that happening is like, I don’t know, almost zero, but I do have those times when I really struggle with it.
But it’s ok, I’m fine, I will be fine of course. I just have to get that out of my system every now and then.
This Week’s Participants:
“What Makes You Pick Up a Book?” Participants:
Don’t forget to share your feedback on LTB. Dani and I would really appreciate it!
How does reading/blogging affect your mental health? How do you find a balance between the two? Are you like me where you don’t actively pay much attention to your mental health? Do controversies, cancel culture, or triggers impact you badly? How do you decide when it’s time to take a step back and breathe?**
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
**i know that this is a personal subject for some, so please don’t feel obliged to answer