Reading is fun and relaxing and the best thing you can do for your brain, right? Wrong! For some, reading can be harmful to your health and your future. Here are four signs that you should stop reading NOW.
Stop reading if you are dwelling.
Reading is like eating. It’s usually pretty healthy. You eat a few carrots here, some steak over there, you’re doing good. Even cheesecake can be okay, but, if you’re eating nothing but cheesecake, there is probably something wrong. Unlike eating, if you find yourself digesting the same type of reading over and over again, you might need to stop reading NOW.
You might be in a dangerous cycle. If you keep reading about dieting and losing weight with obsession, quit reading, and seek the help of a medical professional. If you keep reading revenge plot where people kill their exes, quit reading and ask yourself if you are in a healthy place. If you keep reading fantasy after fantasy, quit reading now and ask yourself what you might be trying to escape.
Books are wonderful at giving us a reprieve from the day to day. It feels great to jump head-first into someone else’s words, but life isn’t something to be escaped.
It is an adventure to be lived.
There will be days, or weeks, or months in which you may not experience the beauty of the adventure. There are reasons why we don’t read about too many of our protagonists using the toilet. There are reasons why we want to speed past their pain. The adventure is still there, and it’s better than any book. Please, keep living it.
Stop reading if you are using books as an excuse.
Someone invites you out to see a new horror movie. You don’t like horror movies, at least, you don’t think you’ll like this one, Plus, money. You don’t have the money to see ANOTHER movie this week. You have goals and aspirations. So, you say “sorry, there’s a book I have to finish tonight.”
If you work in an industry that requires reading, this might work as an excuse. Grad students, teachers, publishers, y’all can get away with this. If you work at McDonald’s, you might get some looks.
Whether people accept your excuse or not, it’s not okay. When you use books as your scapegoat, you avoid talking about the real issues. Admit that you don’t like the movie. Great! Now, your friend knows something more about you. You’ve bonded a little bit more. What if they don’ react well and pressure you into doing something that you don’t want to do? Great! Now, you know who to cut from your best-friends list. While you’re at it, admit that you aren’t rolling in dough. If your friends value your well being they will respect that. Granted, they might offer to pay. Then, the book excuse isn’t terrible to pull out. Just, use books responsibly.
Stop reading if you aren’t really reading anymore.
This one really is an immediate “stop reading NOW” situation. If you find yourself staring at a page, the same page for an excessively long time. Stop reading and find out why. It could totally be something benign: you are sleepy after work, you are distracted by an upcoming event, your cat is laying on you weird, and your arm fell asleep. Even in these simple cases, you should stop reading and get some rest. Your body is telling you something.
What if none of those cases apply? So you know why you aren’t able to focus? There actually might be medical reasons. Brain fog is a symptom of lots of autonomic nervous system disorders. It makes your mind all cloudy and makes focusing difficult. Similar symptoms can be seen in people having strokes, seizures, and dehydration.
Don’t trust some blog on the internet. If you feel concerned about blanking out while reading, stop reading now. Get thee to the doctor and let your primary care or emergency care physician take a look at you.
Stop reading if you have an addiction.
So, you read two books last night, that’s okay. You also read two books the night before that. That’s also okay. For a month you’ve read two books a day. Okay, that’s fine. But, wait! The dishes are piling up. The laundry hasn’t been touched. When was the last time you ate a meal? Not cheese crackers, a real meal.
Reading, like anything that releases pleasure endorphins, can become an addiction. If your life starts to fall apart because you are reading too much, seek help. If you have the money, get to a therapist. If you are religious and don’t have money for a therapist, at least talk to a clergy member. Pray, reach out to friends.
Addictions have roots that are strong. You’re going to need help digging them up.
What can replace reading?
There isn’t a gum designed yet to help you back off your reading habit, but there are lots of things that you can do while you heal to keep you away. Get out of the house and go for a walk. While you’re outside, spend some time making physical contact with trees and rocks and buildings. Ground yourself to reality a little, and see the wonders tucked in every corner. If you have to be home and the itch is too strong, maybe, make your own art. Write a little. If you have to read, read yourself and allow yourself to make reasonable edits. Become the book you want to read.
**Disclaimer: this blog not to be used as medical advice.**