Updated: Jan 20
Description: "Reading for the brain is like exercise for the body. It stretches our abilities and keeps us fit." —Paul Zak
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Transcription: Hi, and welcome to episode 17 of Self-Care for Educators. I am your host, Tina Boogren, and in this episode, we're going to explore the theme of ... reading! Oh, you guys ... because this is like one of my favorite things to do. I actually can't believe that it took me 17 weeks to get to this theme. So let's start out with kind of just a little bit of background of reminders of why reading is so, so, so good for us.
So, I've got a quote here from Paul Zak. Who's a PhD. He's a neuroscience professor at Claremont Graduate University. He studies the physical and emotional benefits of storytelling and he says, quote, "Reading for the brain is like exercise for the body. It stretches our abilities and keeps us fit."
Ooh. I love that. There's actually a ton of research actually supporting why reading is so good for us, and I know as teachers, you guys know this, because we talk about reading. Oh my gosh ... especially elementary teachers, helping kids learn how to read and then promoting the love of reading with our students. We know it's important. Let me just kind of remind us of a few things. Things we know ...
That—listen to this—just six minutes of reading has been shown to reduce heart rate and ease muscle tension. In fact, that brief period of flipping the pages proved more relaxing than some of my other favorite self-care strategies: listening to music, going for a walk, or even sipping a cup of tea. One study said that the authors of that study believed that losing yourself in a book offers a sense of escapism, of being apart from the worries of the world. And, by actively engaging your imagination, you enter what is more or less an altered state of consciousness, one in which your body totally relaxes. Ooh, that's good.
Your brain also functions better with reading. In fact, if you, kind of, are someone who reads has been a reader throughout your entire life, that's actually associated with less cognitive decline. According to research from the Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center, you build your empathy muscle. That's when that is so huge. When we think about reading memoirs, getting perspectives of characters that maybe aren't like us, that really, really, really helps to develop that empathy gene. In fact, here's what we know. We learn to take the perspective of different characters, and when we do that, we begin to understand their emotions, a practice which might extend, actually, out into the real world, which is pretty incredible.
So reading, reading, reading, and I know, I know, I know, I know so many of you are going to say, I don't have time to read, and I get that everyone's at a different season in their lives. So, maybe this is something that really truly, you don't have time for it now. But, if it is something that you wish you had time for, I think we can figure out some ways to make it a, you know, priority. So for me, and this is not for everyone, I would much rather read than watch TV. And, I know there's a bunch of people that would totally disagree with that. So, that is to each their own.
But, I have given up ... I really ... I can't talk to you about very many TV shows, because I don't watch a lot of them. But, I can talk to you about books all day long, and, just like anyone, I can fall into the trap of getting sucked into Netflix. I mean, don't get me wrong. I am here to watch, Oh, all of the episodes of Schitt's Creek and Ozark and Dead to Me. I love all the shows, but those are kind of special treats when I really need some escapism. As far as day to day, for me personally, what I've found that works is, I just usually don't even turn the TV on in the evenings. My ritual is that I usually eat dinner, and then I go for a walk while the weather is nice. And, then I come home. I get ready for bed. And, I just slide into my bedroom and start reading rather than watching TV. This also helps me with sleep—that is so elusive to me these days. If I start watching TV, I have a hard time turning the TV off. Oh, I'm so easily sucked in. Yeah ...
When we're reading, you know, oh my gosh ... I love to read, and it makes me tired and I just drift off. I love reading fiction right now. Especially with everything that's going on in the world. I just kind of wanted an escape. I read a ton of it, of nonfiction too, but right now, man oh man, I am just craving fiction, fiction, fiction. There's so many great like hashtags on Instagram that you can follow to get more reading inspiration: #bookworm or #bookaddict or #bibliophile or #booktagram or #bookish. There's also ... I mean, Oprah and Reese Witherspoon and Emma Watson all have book clubs. I'm a member of Jen Hatmaker's book club. She sends a book each month with like a little treat, and then she does special podcasts with the author, just for her book club members.
I am a member of a book club. I've been a member of this book club, oh my gosh, for years and years and years now. And, it's incredible. There's about 10 of us total. They have us that continually show up and read the books. And, what I love about being part of a book club is I'm introduced to books and kind of am nudged to read books that I might not be otherwise drawn towards. And, that can be a really good thing. Oh! So, I just really encourage you ... If reading was something maybe that you used to do, and you've gotten sucked into technology like all of us do at different times maybe give yourself some sort of a 30 day challenge or set yourself up to just read maybe 10 minutes a day or read two pages a day. Something that you really look forward to reading. I know a lot of us read a ton of educational books ... Trust me, trust me, I'm a fan of the professional book. However, that might not be the escapism that you're looking for right before you go to bed. So without guilt, oh, pick up Harry Potter again. Ask your squad like, what is your all time favorite books? Start scouring. Join different groups, Facebook groups, or Instagram groups, or do some searches on Pinterest and just get back out there and kind of see what you like.
I ... I'm going to admit something. So, I am guilty of ... I typically buy copies of a book. I love to read an actual book. What I like in my hands is a paperback book, but that is not always easy to carry, especially when I'm traveling. And, I tend to read multiple books at the same time. Different genres. I can't read more than one fiction book at once, but I can read a couple of nonfiction books and a fiction book. So, I also have a Kindle. I love my Kindle so much because my Kindle is always with me. I always ... yeah ... In my purse I have my Kindle. It's actually small enough I can basically almost fit it in my back pocket. So, I am never caught like waiting for a doctor's appointment or, waiting in line somewhere where I don't have access to a book, which has saved me from a lot of mental turmoil. And, I love the Kindle at night. I have not found a good reading light that doesn't also keep my husband awake, and I can use the night light on the Kindle. And, that works for me.
I sometimes end up having three copies of one book because if I really like a book, I like to buy a copy that I just kind of put out into the world. I like to have a hardback on my bookshelves. IfI could take you on a tour of my house, you would see, I have books literally in every room, every nook, and corner, and crevice. Well ...
Reading is just so, so, so important to me. I have always loved reading. I was an English teacher, and I would say, it's probably one of my most sacred self-care strategies. So, I invite you to crack open a book. I invite you ... You can follow me if you're part of Good Reads. Good Reads is kind of like a Facebook page for readers. I love it. It's where I keep track of all the books I read, I keep track of the books I want to read. I can see what my friends are reading. Oh, I just love it. So, you're welcome to go find me over on Good Reads. And, I'd love for us to share what are our favorite books, whatever you're reading right now, that's a total escape. What is that number one book that you would recommend? What is the book you wish every single person would read? If you could put it in everyone's hands, you would?
I love talking about books, and in fact, I'm going to cut myself off here because I'm almost at nine minutes, and I want these to be under 10 minutes. And, I know myself ... I could talk about books forever, but I'm going to stop. So, this week, happy reading!
As always, a huge thank you to Brooke for making this happen. A special shout out to both Marzano Resources and Solution Tree for this incredible job that I get to do, and as always, oh my goodness ... Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh... my Self-Care Squad. I love you. You're amazing!