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Reading as Self-Care

Published on
June 15, 2023
Time to read: 
A small book shelf leaning against a large oak tree's trunk, with three books stacked on the top shelf, and four stacked on the second shelf. The cover of Token is visible on the top.
A stack of 8 novels Chantal has read in the last month, with the most recent on top, and least recent on the bottom.

I’m an avid reader, I used to joke that reading was my addiction, because I could easily get lost in a novel, and ignore many other daily tasks, like laundry, and doing the dishes.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that reading is the most effective form of self-care for me. Reading recharges my energy, inspires me, helps me calm my mind at night, and helps me switch between tasks.

While this seems like a lot to ask of one activity, it works for me. Just like serious athletes have different workout routines for different days, and stages in their training, I read different books for a variety of purposes.

I read books by people with different lived experiences than mine, to glimpse what their lives are like, while learning from them.

I read books by leaders, for inspiration on how I can improve my leadership. I even read leadership books! And believe me there is a distinct difference between books written by leaders, and books written to teach leadership.

I read funny books (from many genres) to help lighten my mood.

I read novels to recharge my energy, and to calm my mind before I go to sleep.

I read when I eat a meal alone, and I often read while getting my 250 + steps in each hour. Combining mental and physical self-care.

The picture accompanying this blog is a book stack showing a selection of the novels I’ve read over the past month. Some I bought at local bookstores, new and used. Some are from our local library, and others are part of the traveling family library that my mother-in-law started, and that many of our family members participate in.

The authors names, from the top of the stack down are: Beverly Kendall, Kate Khavari, Katharine Schellman, Michelle Porter, Angeline Boulley, Louise Penny, James Patterson, and Gregg Hurwitz.

Beverly’s book “Token” is so engaging, and entertaining that I picked it up this morning for my third reading. Yes, I read books that I really enjoy over, and over again.  The light hearted romance novel, that covers the serious topic of BIPOC people being hired as tokens, and the intersectional challenges of being a Black woman entrepreneur, is incredibly well written. The story moves along at a good pace, and I know what’s coming next.

What that means is that I can pick “Token” up and read a few pages, to shift my focus between tasks, or quiet my mind before sleep, rather than tumbling full on into the story, and ignoring other priorities.

Now I know that reading is medicine for me, and what dose of each type of book I need to care for myself.

I encourage you, to explore different types of self-care, to learn what works for you.