Anxiety messes with countless daily activities. Having dread and worry can make it hard to do the activities you have to do in a day, but anxiety can even interfere with the things you want to do. If your favorite leisure activities require focus and long bouts of concentration, like reading, then anxiety can really take a toll on your down time.
If you’ve ever sought counseling for anxiety, or taken any self-assessments for it, then you’ve probably encountered a variation of the question, “Do you have difficulty concentrating?” Lack of focus is a normal symptom of anxiety, and it’s a real battle for book lovers. If you’re like me, you might feel like you can’t call yourself a true book lover if every time you sit down to read your mind wanders and you end up feeling like doing something else. Then, there’s a new surge of anxiety about feeling like a fake. It’s a vicious cycle, but I’ve come up with a few tricks that help me confront the problem of feeling anxious while reading so I can put the joy back in it.
1. Read What You Love
This is usually easier said than done, especially if you’re in school or have to do a lot of reading for work, but if you can find the time to choose the material that you actually want to read, then reading will naturally start to feel like a more enjoyable experience. The more you do it and enjoy it, the less anxious you will feel.
2. Remind Yourself That You Don’t Have To Marathon Read
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to listen to other book lovers talk about reading. They’ve read so much, and in so little time. But if you feel like you can concentrate for only 10 minutes at a time, then that’s how long you should read. If you read for 10 minutes each day for a week, then maybe next week you can build up to 15 minutes. Remind yourself too, that if you’re reading past the point that you can focus, then you’re not getting much out of it anyway.
3. Treat Yourself While You Read
For me, this means making a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, and getting cozy somewhere. The treat could be anything, though, from food to a favorite pillow. I especially like this trick because it motivates me to sit down and read, and it also creates a more positive memory about the experience, which makes it easier and easier to come back to it.
4. Remove Distractions
If anxiety is weighing you down while you read, then it’s a smart idea to get away from anything that can trigger your dread and worry. This might mean going to the library and hunkering down in the quietest corner you can find, or it might mean shutting off your phone and snuggling up in bed. My favorite place to go and read is the front porch. But, wherever you go, just make sure it’s quiet and calm.
5. Listen To An Audiobook
There’s nothing wrong with listening to a book, and there are countless reasons why this might be the best choice for you. Maybe reading for long periods of time hurts your eyes and gives you a headache. Or, maybe you absolutely love to read, but find it exhausting because you have dyslexia. Or, maybe you feel like you have no time to read. If you’re like me, you struggle with reading comprehension and find yourself rereading whole chapters just to get the gist. If any of these problems resonate with you, then an audiobook might just be the cure.
These are just a few ideas to help you put the joy back in reading, but mainly, the more you can make reading enjoyable, the more you will want to do it.
However, if truly nothing seems to help make reading fun again, then it might be time to see a professional about your anxiety. I’ve linked a resource so you can talk to someone online right now, or seek counseling services near you: http://www.7cups.com/
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