A recent article in The Guardian has indicated that libraries can boost our mental wellbeing. That’s right, your modest, struggling local library is the underestimated pillar of your community. And you know what? It’s true.
Somewhat annoyingly, I almost wrote a post over a year or so ago about this, because my local library became a place of solace and quiet relief when I was going through my lowest of lows. I ended up not writing it because I thought people would think it was bullshit – but here we are, with studies now indicating my initial inkling might not have been so far off.
And so, I present to you: an ode to your local library – and why it’s an excellent place for a spot of self-care.
Books, glorious books
There is something wonderful about walking into a room crammed full of more books than I can read in a lifetime. Granted, most of them are probably a bit tatty. You might have to take a trip down memory lane and use Windows 95 to locate the exact tome you’re looking for. But that’s part of its charm.
Heck, when I go to the library, I often don’t even have a book in mind. I just wander among the shelves until something captures my interest. It reintroduces a bit of serendipity to my life in an age of instant-access information. It slows things down.
Escaping the norm
With books, comes (hopefully) great stories. A chance to leave your day-to-day for a little while and escape into an action-packed thriller, captivating fantasy, wholesome romance, or anything else that floats your boat.
Sit yourself down and just take a moment to read. With any luck, the anxiety or bothersome thoughts that follow you around may just leave you alone for a little while.
Finding a friend
Libraries aren’t the stale environments of the past and it’s fair to say you might find yourself there for reasons other than finding your next page-turner. My local library offers everything from card-making workshops and board game evenings, to toddler singsongs, chess groups and music recitals – which are all great ways to meet like-minded people.
Of course, you’ll also usually find a book club or two. Great news if you’re a library purist – the books aren’t going anywhere.
Getting some bloody peace and quiet
Sometimes life can feel so incredibly noisy. Phones ringing, devices beeping, traffic rushing, sirens wailing, dogs barking, people fussing. These very normal things may not always bother us, but some days it just get a bit… much.
Noise can have a significant effect on our stress hormones, so a space in which silence is celebrated (outside of toddler hours, of course) can feel like striking gold. Apparently, just two minutes of silence can release tension. So even just a five-minute window to pick out your next page-turner could do you a world of good.
Perhaps this will inspire you to check out the situation at your local library. Maybe you still think it’s bullshit. Even so, unexpected places can be great grounds for self-care. Find yours.