Can reading books help with stress management? In a piece published in The New Yorker, social anthropologist and author Ceridwen Dovey talked about her experiences with bibliotherapy.
This form of psychological treatment encourages reading to promote healing. This practice has been conducted in a variety of settings from literature courses for incarcerated individuals to reading circles for elderly dementia patients.
Here’s more from the article: “For all avid readers who have been self-medicating with great books their entire lives, it comes as no surprise that reading books can be good for your mental health and your relationships with others, but exactly why and how is now becoming clearer, thanks to new research on reading’s effects on the brain. Since the discovery, in the mid-nineties, of ‘mirror neurons’—neurons that fire in our brains both when we perform an action ourselves and when we see an action performed by someone else—the neuroscience of empathy has become clearer. A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, based on analysis of fMRI brain scans of participants, showed that, when people read about an experience, they display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves.”