A Daily Dose of Vitamin R (Reading); Keeps the Stress Away

By Dr Monica Khanna

The importance of a balanced diet is ingrained in us from early childhood. We are taught about the various nutrients that need to be included in our diet to boost our immunity, and ensure a strong and healthy body.  But what about our minds? The mind also needs nourishment to stay healthy. And what better nutrient to keep the mind healthy than a daily dose of Vitamin R (Reading) which is found in books! A deficiency of Vitamin R can cause the mind to be devoid of imagination and knowledge, narrow one’s horizons, limit one’s understanding of the world, and hamper creativity.

Most of us enjoy a variety in our cuisine. While there are certain comfort foods that can always satiate our hunger, we crave to experiment with unfamiliar flavours. Not all experiments are successful – we savour some, and resist others. Similarly, we may enjoy a certain genre of books – be it mystery, crime thrillers, social dramas, historical fiction, mythological stories or romance – but we often venture into reading other genres for a change. Variety breaks the monotony, and gives us something new and different to look forward to. We can choose to read different books simultaneously, depending on our mood. There are times when we want to read something light and funny, while sometimes, when we know we can focus, we pick up a book that is philosophical and serious. When we are engrossed in mundane chores, we may not be able to read a book – and in such times, an audio book becomes a boon, enabling us to constructively use our time to enhance and enrich ourselves.

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Vitamin (R) has immense benefits. Not only does it provide knowledge on a wide variety of subjects from history to sociology to economics to politics, it also helps improve focus and concentration. Moreover, it augments language development, through exposure to new words that help build vocabulary and creative expression of one’s thoughts and feelings. It also aids in emotional development by instilling the values of compassion and empathy. As we get into the skins of characters and view the world through their lenses, we understand a multiplicity of perspectives, which may be different from our own, but which begin to appear valid and justified. Books encourage us to question, challenge, scrutinize and analyse ideologies and traditions that we often take for granted.

Most importantly, books provide companionship, never for a moment allowing us to feel bored or lonely.  A book is indeed the best friend one could ask for – a friend that gives unconditionally, without expecting anything in return, and keeps us entertained and engrossed for as long as we want.

A daily dose of Vitamin R is essential for people of all age groups, especially children who are at a stage when they will form habits that last a lifetime.  The best gift we can give to our children is to read to them, read with them, and read around them, thus administering a sufficient dose of this essential vitamin that will enhance their mental health and enrich their minds.

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About the Author

Dr. Monica Khanna (Ph.D., M.Phil., M.A.) works as Associate Professor at Indira Institute of Business Management, and Consultant at Indian School of Management and Entrepreneurship. She has around twenty-five years of experience in the field of academics as well as in journalism and business. She has published ten books, including scholarly books on gender studies, books on grammar and composition, books of short stories and picture books for children. She also writes a weekly column for a Navi Mumbai based newspaper, Newsband. She lives in Navi Mumbai with her family. She may be reached at: [email protected]

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