In this new series, our contributors explain the different activities, people and things that mean a lot to them. First up, Aisling McEntegart explains how reading is a perfect stress reliever for her.
 
Like many other college students, I juggle a number of different things on a daily basis. Between work, study and social related activities, my day is usually filled with tasks to complete and places to be from the moment I wake up until I lay my head down at night.
 
The busier I am, the more important I find it is to have some time to myself towards the end of every day to unwind and take my mind off any stress or pressure. This allows me to face each new day with renewed enthusiasm and recharged batteries. 
 
While everyone has their own preferred means of achieving this, personally my all-time favourite has to be sitting down with a cup of tea and a good book.
 
There are many different reasons why I adore kicking back and and reading a book. Since a young age, I have found it to be the perfect mix of escapism, education and entertainment. 
 
Whether it be after a long day of working on college assignments or a lazy Sunday morning, reading is something I simply cannot get enough of.
 
Reading enables me to immerse myself in another world for a brief time and opens my eyes to issues I may never encounter in my own life. 
 
It is impossible to do and see everything, but reading can give us a glimpse into situations we may never experience personally.This greatly expands my world view and opens my eyes to the realities of other people.
 
In addition to this, I fully believe that through reading you greatly improve your empathy and overall understanding of others. 
 
Through reading from the point of view of different characters within a novel, we become more aware of the subjective nature of our opinions and are reminded that there is a story behind the way each individual thinks and acts. What someone presents of themselves may only give a small inkling of who they really are. 
 
Reading teaches us that every single person has a life as vivid as our own, filled with hopes, dreams, worries and complicated relationships. While the people you pass walking down the street are only extras in the story of your life, they are the main characters in their own. 
 
In the past I have been guilty of reacting solely to what I am presented with, forgetting to fully consider the other side. Being a reader has shown me that I may not fully appreciate another person’s perspective, and as a result, it has helped me relate better to those around me. 
 
Through reading, we learn to practice patience and become adept at deciphering the behaviours of our counterparts effectively.
 
By reading about the lives of other people we become more self-aware and notice that peoples’ personalities and traits are often largely shaped by their circumstances and experiences. 
 
Through reading I have realised that just because I think I might be correct about something doesn’t necessarily mean I am. We all tend to think we are right, but often we do not know the full extent of any given situation.
 
I find it amazing that the written words of strangers, both living and dead, can affect our ways of thinking so deeply and can evoke such strong emotion. 
 
It is a strange sensation to become attached to characters who do not exist or who we are unlikely to cross paths with. Perhaps we connect with the characters within the pages of a novel because some part of us identifies with them or we simply just want them to succeed in their ventures. 
 
Reading provides a means for a little bit of time to disconnect and become absorbed in a completely different world. 
 
Through colourful imagery, captivating plots and fascinating characters, we are able to forget our current predicaments in order to follow the journey of another person. 
 
The barriers overcome by the characters in books encourage us to prevail over our own personal struggles and to always remain hopeful. 
 
The reading of books brings people together and opens the door for so many wonderful conversations.
 
One of the things I like most about reading is the different interpretations people have in response to the same material. 
 
Story telling is one of humanity’s oldest forms of creative activity and unites people across all cultures. Much of what we know of past civilizations and ways of life comes from stories written by the people of those times. 
 
So, if you don’t already read much, try picking up that book that has been idly collecting dust on a shelf next time you’re at a loss for something to do. Who knows what valuable lessons you may learn from it?

 

Photo: Anne Adrian/ Flickr