I highly recommend romance novels if you're really going through it right now

I highly recommend romance novels if you’re really going through it right now

At night, I looked forward to reading the novels I had downloaded from the Los Angeles Public Library. Some I devoured in three nights. Others I turned to when anxiety woke me up at 4am. There was security in the routine of knowing that every story I read ended happily; I didn’t have to wonder if the people I was reading were suffering.

Romance novels have also helped me deal with anxiety, depression and loneliness.

At the height of the pandemic, I sank into depression. At first, I dismissed my symptoms – irritability, hopelessness and physical exhaustion – as caregiver burnout mixed with the stress of writing about rapidly rising anti-Asian sentiments. I tried melatonin and meditation to help me relax, but reading romance worked better and seemed to interrupt the constant anxiety loop in my brain. To be clear, romance novels are not a substitute for mental health treatment – it ultimately took a combination of medication and therapy to help me deal with my depression and anxiety – but the stories I read helped me relax at a time when I desperately needed it.

Turns out there’s science to back up the mental boost I received from my fictional companions. A 2022 study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that reading books was an effective coping strategy for emergency healthcare workers during the pandemic, reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. I would never compare my situation to theirs, and again, you can’t read your way out of a mental health issue, but it’s encouraging to know that books can, in fact, make you feel a little better when life gets dark and overwhelming.

And romance novels can be especially helpful when dealing with loneliness and isolation. In a 2013 study in the journal Psychology of aesthetics, creativity and the arts, the researchers spoke with readers of specific book genres – domestic fiction, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and suspense/thriller – to understand how they might pick up on non-verbal social and emotional cues. Participants were asked to ‘decode emotions from cropped black-and-white images of people’s eyes’ and researchers found that romance readers ‘tended to pick up social cues better’ compared to romance readers. other genres.

Translation: Reading romance novels might help you feel more connected to others, says Katrina Fong, PhD, a social and personality psychology researcher and lead author of the study. And that’s not so surprising, given that romance, more than other genres, focuses so heavily on relationships. “Reading stories and connecting with characters can help meet our personal psychological needs,” says Dr. Fong. “It’s possible that connecting to fictional characters can create a sense of closeness that avoids loneliness, especially if the characters feel like real people to readers.”

Of course, this is just one study, and it didn’t specifically examine whether romance stories made readers less lonely or isolated. But it does suggest that the strong sense of connection I felt when I was able to spend time with my romance novel characters may have been why these books eased my loneliness during a very isolated time. .

I felt emotionally validated by the characters.

Unlike the romance novels I read as a teenager, my new reads had relatable characters. I saw myself in Chloé, the perpetual diary of Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibert. As someone who married her best friend, I understood the relationship between Alex and Poppy’s best friends and lovers in Emily Henry The people we meet on vacation. And as I struggled with caregiver burnout and depression, I felt understood by Helen Hoang The principle of the hearta deeply vulnerable novel centered on Anna Sun, a young woman caring for her sick mother, and a guy she meets for a one-night stand.

#highly #recommend #romance #novels #youre

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