Today’s post is a little different from my usual content and is a discussion post around the topic of mental health and how this impacts reading and blogging. I’ll be sharing my personal experiences of mental health and how this has impacted my reading, particularly over the last couple of months. If any of you are also struggling with mental health, know that you’re not alone and you can reach out to me any time. There will also be resources at the end of the post for more mental health information and support ❤️
I, like so many others around the world, have felt the impact of COVID-19. It wasn’t until recently that I recognised how much my mental health has taken a hit because of this second lockdown (which is finally coming to an end, hooray!). Ironically, the thing that helped me to recognise my poor mental health was my reading habits. Usually, I read every day, even if it’s only for half an hour and I average about 7 books a month. This month I’ve read only three books and have gone days and days on end without even picking up a book. This complete lack of motivation and ability to read really highlighted how much of a negative space I was in mentally and emotionally.
During the first lockdown last year, reading was my saviour. It gave me something to focus on and was a means of escapism; it’s what I turned to when I was feeling anxious or lonely. But recently, I’ve found the opposite happening and my low mood and poor mental health has turned me away from books. As much as I’ve wanted to read, whenever I’ve picked up a book I haven’t been able to focus and find myself reading the same lines over and over again but not comprehending or retaining anything I’ve read.
Because I consider myself a proud reader and books have become such a huge part of my life, I’ve constantly berated myself for my inability to read and my lack of inspiration or creativity to create content. But over the last week or so something clicked in my brain and every time I’d put myself down about not reading, I reminded myself that I’m not obligated to read and that I’m not failing as a reader or a book blogger by not reading every day. My mantra and belief is that reading is and should always be primarily about enjoyment. But unfortunately, I found that I’d fallen into the trap that so many other content creators do of feeling an obligation to always be reading and creating and hitting certain numbers.
Other bloggers and content creators have spoken openly about mental health and the impact it has on us as readers and creators, and I appreciate that so much because we need this type of transparency. We’re not machines, we’re human beings. Most of bloggers, like myself, create content for free in their spare time in addition to juggling other responsibilities like work, studying and caring for a family. It can be tough and we shouldn’t feel pressure or feel like a failure for taking a break or focusing on other areas of our lives.
The main purpose of this post is to say to all of my fellow book bloggers: I see you and you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with your mental health and are unable to read or create content for any reason, that is perfectly okay and you are still a valuable and loved part of the book community. Take some time for yourself and remember that sometimes when our mental health is low, reading and blogging becomes an impossible chore. Every single one of us has mental health just like we have physical health and it fluctuates and has its ups and downs. The most important thing is to take time to re-center at those times when our mental health is low and not put pressure on ourselves to read and/or create content. To get the most out of reading and blogging, we need to feel strong and healthy both mentally and emotionally.
I’m working towards improving my mental health with meditation, journaling and socialisation, and gradually I’m feeling the benefits. I’m already starting to want to read more and I’m feeling better in myself. But an important part of this process for me was letting go of reading for a while and understanding that although reading helped my mental health in the past, on this occassion it didn’t and that’s okay. Books will always be there for me to come back to but sometimes prioritising myself and other parts of my life is necessary.
I hope you are all safe and well ❤️
If you would like any more information about mental health support please check out these websites (UK):
- Mental Health – NHS
- Mind helplines
- Mental Health support (COVID-19) – Mind
- Charity helplines for mental health support
- Accessing support for mental health – Mental Health Foundation
- Mental Health Helplines – Time to Change
- Guide to Mental Health Support – YoungMinds
Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.