Answer the following four questions to know if you’ll enjoy reading for self-care.
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While there are so many options available to those looking for self-care ideas, Jeff Cook says that sometimes, reading for self-care is the best thing you can do.
Have you ever been crippled with indecision when searching for a self-care activity that works for you?
We all find pleasure in different things which is why it’s so hard for us to decide how we want to relax sometimes.
Thankfully, research has shown that people with a greater intrinsic motivation to read will also derive greater pleasure from reading.
The following four questions will determine if you have a high intrinsic motivation to read and, therefore, will enjoy reading more than other self-care activities you could choose from.
Do you think reading is important?
One of the biggest reasons we choose to read for pleasure is because we think it’s important.
How much more important is reading to you than the other activities you could fill your self-care time with?
If you ranked reading as one of the most important things you could be doing right now then you’re very motivated to read. You’re likely to get more pleasure from reading than the activities you consider unimportant.
What makes reading important to you will be different than what makes reading important for everyone else. For example, if you set a personal goal of reading one book per week then it may feel very important for you to finish that book and meet your goal.
Another reason reading could be important is skill attainment. You may need to learn an intermediate skill but haven’t mastered the prerequisites. Reading the prerequisite material to further a learning goal will feel important and satisfying.
Are you curious about what you’re reading?
You’ll be more motivated to read something you’re curious about.
To be curious about something is to want to learn more about it. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be academic learning.
Your experience will be enhanced if you want to learn by reading about the protagonist of a fantastical world, a different culture, or your profession, hobby or heritage.
What makes you curious about the material isn’t important so long as you’re driven to learn about the subject matter.
Do you prefer reading in a certain way?
Another driver of intrinsic reading motivation is involvement. This can be described as a preference for a particular genre or medium.
Do you usually like to read mystery more than other types of books? Maybe fantasy, young adult or romance is your favorite instead?
Just having a prefered genre is a sign that you’re motivated to read. You should read the genre you usually gravitate toward when you want to maximize pleasure while reading for self-care.
If you don’t have a favorite genre then maybe you have a prefered reading medium. This may mean that you prefer reading the newspaper to reading novels or blog posts.
If you have a prefered reading medium then make sure you have something in that medium on hand. This will motivate you to read more and, subsequently, enhance your reading enjoyment.
I like this point best because it validates that extra bit of satisfaction I get from reading a hardcover over a paperback.
Are you challenged by what you read?
The final factor that improves self-care by reading is challenge. Research shows we get more satisfaction from reading when we can pat ourselves on the back for it.
There are a lot of ways we could find challenge in reading but two of the most common challenges are complexity and quantity.
If you want to get the most out of reading for pleasure then you should be mindful of complexity. Is what you’re reading complex enough for you?
What you’re reading may be too easy if you get bored with it easily. The text may be too complex if it feels convoluted and confusing. Try to find your “just right” level of reading difficulty.
If you don’t want to find challenge in the complexity of the text you’re reading then you can do what many readers do and explore challenge in quantity.
Readers all over the world collaborate on and participate in readathons where they read as much as possible in a short amount of time while discussing what they’ve read. This adds both the pleasure of challenge and the bonus of a community to share your hobby with.
Is reading for pleasure your perfect self-care activity?
I’ve described all of the things that can provide increased intrinsic motivation to read.
If you answer yes to all four of these questions then research shows you’ll derive more satisfaction from reading than other self-care activities.
Here are the questions again, shortened down for you to review:
- Is reading more important to you than other activities you could do in your spare time?
- Is there something you want to learn by reading?
- Do you have a favorite genre or way to read (newspaper, blog, paperback)?
- Is what you’re reading just right in terms of difficulty?
Hopefully, you’ve answered yes to all of these questions so that you can stop wondering about what your ideal self-care activity is.
Answering yes may also mean that reading is the best way you can supplement an activity that you already enjoy like relaxing in the tub, on the beach or curled up in a cozy chair.
No books? No problem.
Did you find out that reading is your perfect self-care activity but you don’t have any books that satisfy the criteria above?
That’s okay – libraries exist for exactly this reason. There are libraries all over the world who want to promote reading and put great books into the hands of hungry readers.
You can simply type your state, province, postal code or zip code into the WorldCat database search to immediately get the address and contact information for your nearest library.
Can’t physically visit the library? Don’t fret! Many libraries have access to a digital catalogue of ebooks, articles and audiobooks for you to explore. Simply reach out to your nearest library to get set up for their online portal.
Looking for something else to do during your self-care routine? Check out our 100+ Uncommon Self-Care Ideas To Turbocharge Your Life!