Bibliotherapy: Reading to find a ‘Balance’ in our lives #CauseAChatter

Mental health is recognized as one of the grey areas looming at large at this point. Our brain is continuously absorbing news 24×7, mostly the bad part of it overpowering every other aspect. So, can I ask you to pick up a happy book and forget the world – the external and the internal? No, surely NOT but it is certainly one of the ways and let us explore it together.

‘Bibliotherapy’ has the potential to treat a person’s troubled state of mind through books. This is one of the doors available to you; to turn on the knob and enter a therapeutic world. Books have a calming effect on your mind, the way we speak of yoga but probably with a bit more concerted effort. 

It seems a brilliant idea to make one’s list of books to read instead of restricting ourselves within the ambit of Prescriptive Bibliotherapy. As for me, I have enjoyed reading fairytales the most during this stay at home routine. I had never before thought how happy reading the ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ could have made me. Today, I feel closer at heart with Snow White protected inside the confines of the Dwarfs’ house, assigned to take care of the house and not letting strangers enter the house.

If you aren’t as lucky to find a copy of the dreamy ‘Grimm’s fairytales’, I think short stories would work just as great. As work piles up – household chores, school’s online classes, and official deadlines, short stories are apt to be crunched in this schedule. In 30 minutes, you can get your dose of the literary pill with a short story. ‘The Remarkable Rocket’ by Oscar Wilde is a short story from his collection titled ‘The Happy Prince and Other Tales’ published in 1888. This is a fairytale-ish story of a Prince and a Russian Princess who drove from Finland on a sledge drawn by six reindeers. During the festivities of their marriage, the Princess wants fireworks to conclude the celebrations for she had never seen them in her life. The fireworks, however, are magically able to talk, and we’re introduced to the pompous Remarkable Rocket.

Wilde’s short story is like a fairy tale for adults with satirical undertones. (Writing about this makes me want to re-read one of Wilde’s plays ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’.)  

I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my greatest pleasures. I often have long conversations all by myself, and I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” The Remarkable Rocket says.

On that magical note, let me add a few things to the list to find happiness through books.

1. The Sight of Books around you

Stacking of books near your bed or on the coffee table is like an invitation to another world – a world of adventure and newer possibilities. Yes, just before you begin the reading journey, you can throw in a bit of the designer in you to place books aesthetically around your house. The presence of books around you is sure to elevate your mood, divert your mind towards the topics held in a book and you will be enthused to spin a conversation around it.

2. Reading Prose has a lulling effect on your brain

With the lockdown and the related anxiety, many people are dealing with a disturbed sleeping routine. Turning on the screen time at night to mitigate sleeplessness only aggravates the problem, so a better alternative is to have a book by your bedside. Reading puts you in a trance-like state and helps you get a deep sleep. The reason people who love to read often schedule their reading right before bedtime.

You can turn to spiritual books to have a calming thought at the end of your day, to pacify the tumultuous times. ‘Siddhartha’ by Hermann Hesse since its publication in 1951 has become an important book on spiritual self-discovery. Siddhartha is the story of two friends – Siddhartha and Govinda, on their journey to find peace and understand spirituality set in the time of Gautam Buddha. The book explores the teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism.

When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.” – Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

3. You are traveling in Space and Time with your book

A lot of people miss their travel and holidays. A book can take you virtually across the globe or chart the space for that matter. You can go forward and backward with the narrative, jump the timelines. Wanderlust as they call the genre is an amazing way to understand newer realms and catch up on the lost plan for travel.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.” – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

4. Finishing a book is an achievement

If you are missing out on the sense of achievement, not that the virtual world is leaving any stone unturned with the work schedules, deadlines, and online meetings but still if you do, then grab a book.  

A study published in the Annual Review of Psychology 2011, based on an analysis of MRI brain scans shows that when people read about an experience, they display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves. “Psychologists and neuroscientists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that when we read a story and really understand it, we create a mental simulation of the events described by the story.” This imaginary experience is the work of what are called “mirror neurons,” brain cells that allow us to feel what others are experiencing as if it were happening to us. Voila, empathy!

5. Start on a reading challenge

Many reading challenges are out there on different websites and Goodreads. Apart from this, you can frame your own challenge to read a certain number of books a year or before you get back to the normal routine. You can finally include reading something you have always meant to read but kept pushing it aside like ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce or ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy. The result will surely give you a sense of achievement.

Thank you for reading this post. In the previous post, I had written ‘Exploring ten Bookish things under Bibliotherapy’. You can have a look there too!

I am eager to know what you read or are reading or plan to read during this period. I am reading ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell, a Classic I intended to read for long. These days, Scarlett O’Hara, the protagonist of this book is a staple sharing her story of desire, sadness, and aspirations in my journal. And, I go off to sleep thinking…Oh! What a brave, courageous girl…I started the book hating Miss O’Hara but now I feel so much for her.

This post is a part of Blogchatter’s ‘Blogging with a Purpose’ #CauseAChatter.

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5 thoughts on “Bibliotherapy: Reading to find a ‘Balance’ in our lives #CauseAChatter

  1. It was such an amazing post.
    It’s true that in these tough times, books really help a lot in keeping us sane.
    Loved the recommendations you have given here.
    And yes, reading challenges help a lot. I am participating in them every month and it has helped me in reading variety of books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Bibliotherapy for Children: Joy of Reading and its Therapeutic effects #CauseAChatter – Bookishloom

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