Have you been home due to COVID-19 like me? Have you been home since mid-March like me? And like me, have you been feeling that your brain is slower than normal? Feeling like you can’t handle too much every day before you feel exhausted? Always tired? Are you not looking to the long-term future? Does even going outside to buy groceries seem like such a complex task for your brain?
image via association for psychological science
If you said yes to any of the questions above, you may be suffering from burn out. No, not a fire. Your brain is burned out from stress! So, how does this even relate to reading your favorite books? I’ll tell you now.
According to a tweet by Alexis Rockley, a psychology-certified coach, she says that due to all the change in our lives that we’ve experienced from COVID-19, it’s putting incredible stress on our brains. Check out her thread below on Twitter.
So, what does that have to do with reading your favorite books? Well, our brains are like machines. We can only do so much work before it gets exhausted. That cognitive energy we use every day is finite. And the COVID-19 pandemic has been causing it to burn much faster than normal.
So when we find ourselves burnt out from stress more often (me, lately), doing things creatively, whether it’s making art, reading, baking, etc., is just so much harder. I myself just painted this Saturday after two months. So when it comes time to sit down and read a new book, you might find yourself disengaged from immersing yourself in the new world filled to the brim with amazing details and deep characters.
image via poshmark
To counter this, try reading a book that’s your favorite! Not only will you fulfill that craving you feel, but since you are already so familiar with the story, you won’t be burning your brain even more (or at all!). In an interesting article on The Washington Post, Sarah Wendell states:
Familiarity is key when facing down mental overload, and publishers are noting an uptick in backlist sales — a trend that is itself familiar. Cindy Hwang, vice president and editorial director of Penguin Random House’s Berkley imprint, notes that people weather challenging times with comforting reads designed to lift spirits. “If you look back, screwball comedy grew out of the Great Depression,” she said, “and the chick-lit boom followed shortly after the tragedy of 9/11. Similarly, we’re now seeing readers turn to the comfort of familiar, escapist fiction at a time when our future is uncertain.
Wendell continues to say that when we are stressed, the familiar is something that can help soothe us, especially during these times when we are constantly being bombarded with new discoveries and horrible news about COVID-19. It’s just a stress rollercoaster that no one is enjoying being on right now.
Wendell quotes Aarya Marsden when she states: “There’s comfort in being able to predict and control your surroundings. It’s a relief to sink into something that goes exactly to plan.” So, when we reread a book, we already know what’s going to happen. We can always predict it, especially for our favorite books. This is what Marsden meant by having control, and I think this will definitely help.
If you have been feeling any urges to devour a favorite book you’ve read, an amazing television series you’ve watched, or maybe a really deep poem you’ve read, don’t feel afraid to dive right into it. That could very well be your brain’s way of trying to take control of something.
Go indulge yourself, you deserve it.