Reading fiction is my first port of call when I’m feeling a bit stressed or low; it calms me down, grounds me when my mind is wandering, and helps me gain a wider perspective.
Whether you’re facing a stressful interview, experiencing trouble sleeping, or if you’re just in need of a mood-boosting book, here are ten ways to use bibliotherapy on a day-to-day basis. How do you use books to feel better?
1. Pop a book in your bag
Carry a book with you and you’ll be prepared to deal with unexpected waiting, nervous feelings before a big event, or anything that leaves you wanting to be cheered up.
2. Memorise one or two lines from poetry, a sentence from a favourite book, or a great quotation
Reinforce your mental fortress
with words you know will bring you strength and tranquility when you most need it. Tennyson’s “Ulysses” has helped me out on many an occasion, but here are some favourite lines from “If” by Rudyard Kipling
that we’d all do well to remember:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…
3. Buy a reading journal and scribble down some thoughts on what you’re reading
There’s just something about writing in a personal reading journal that Goodreads can’t ever compete with. Moleskine book journals are my favourite.
4. When in a difficult situation, ask yourself what a character or author would do
Whether you look up to Mr. Bennett or Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre or Zadie Smith, get in touch with your inner literary guides and ask what they would do.
5. Buy a friend a book and leave a note or dedication in it
After being pleasantly surprised by Definitely, Maybe
, a film which praises dedications in books, I’ve remembered how much I truly appreciate receiving a book with a few personal words in its inlay.
6. Spend an hour in a library or bookshop
Because being surrounded by the wisdom of thousands of years and the ingenuity of humankind’s best minds is surely a great thing.
7. Flick through a book of quotes
Whether you choose an anthology of quotations (I use the Penguin New Dictionary of Quotations
), or a little quotes bible of your own making, you’ll be sure to find some reassuring guidance to uplift your mood.
8. Re-read a favourite novel
9. Prescribe yourself a brilliant novel you’re yet to read (but sure to love)
If you keep hearing about a book that seems too good to be true, go out and treat yourself to it.
10. Put down everything and read for ten minutes!