Jul 16

What if there was something you could do that helped lower your blood pressure, manage worries and stress, and could help keep your brain sharp? You probably have all the equipment you need right at home, and you won’t even break a sweat doing it. Too good to be true?

Most of us probably read Facebook updates, microwave food directions and the headlines of the news everyday. But when was the last time you sat down and read a good book? Reading a book is good for your physical and mental health, and the benefits can last a lifetime.  Studies show that beginning in childhood, reading stimulates the networks and signals in the brain……literally improving how our mind works. It does not matter if you like the feel of a book in your hands, or the freedom an e-reader provides.  (One advantage of an e-reader is that you can increase the font size for aging eyes.)

Just like any muscle, our brain needs exercise to stay strong and fit. When you read fiction you have to remember the characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, and history, as well as the sub-plots in the story. It sounds complicated, but our brains can remember these things with relative ease.

The effects of reading are cumulative and provide the chance to “use it or lose it.”  If you read more, you’ll take in more information and have a better vocabulary. This can help you with test taking and job opportunities.

Reading to children can help improve their communication skills and self-esteem. It can be a warm and happy time, and increases the chance they will become good readers themselves.

Reading a book before bed can be a routine that signals your body to wind down and go to sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, the blue light coming off a phone or e-reader can actually keep you awake and make it harder for you to go to sleep.

There was a time when books were rare and expensive. More recently librarians have managed to get books into our hands whether by horseback, bookmobile, or e-readers. There might even be a Little Free Library in your neighborhood.

It’s never too late to take advantage of the physical and mental benefits waiting for you in the pages of a good book.

Bible stories are always a great choice! Here are a few additional recommendations:

From Father Mark Innocenti: “I am just finishing this one. It is look at “charisms” through the eyes of a dynamic lay minister of our faith. Damian shares many of his own stories about healing and prophetic gifts along with giving knowledge about charismatic gifts to those who would like to know more about this area of ministry. Lord, Renew Your Wonders Spiritual Gifts for Today, Damian Stayne ISBN: 978-1-59325-323-3     

From Father Tom Skaja: “Here are just a few of my favorites:

– “Time for God,” and “Searching for and Maintaining Peace,” both by Fr. Jacques Philippe

“The Power of Silence,” by Robert Cardinal Sarah, “The Interior Castle,” by St. Teresa of Avila, and “The Great Divorce,” by C.S. Lewis.

Here are a few more to consider:

Our Lady of the Lost and Found by Diane Schoemperlen. (Fiction) What would you do if Mary — as in the Blessed Virgin Mary — just showed up at your house and asked to stay for a week?

Embracing Edith Stein: Wisdom for Women from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.  Anne Costa Embracing Edith Stein shows how the different aspects of the life and teachings of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross can serve as a guide for women and their unique vocation today. ISBN:  9781616366810    

Radical Saints: 21 Women for the 21st Century. Twenty-one women, all recognized as saints during the first two decades of the 21st century, stood out from the crowd, went against the tide, set aside their comfort and self-interest, and achieved something great for God.   ISBN:  9781632533111

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis For teens, young adults and adults of all ages.

Saints on the Go!  From Chantal Boros.  Little ones love transportation, but so did the saints! If you want to know how Joan of Arc, St. Kateri, Pope St. John Paul the Great and others got from point A to point B, you can find out in this fun picture book.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Clark is a Faith Community Nurse at the Church of Saint Andrew in Elk River, MN since August 2017. She earned her BSN from Iowa Wesleyan College and a Master’s Degree and DNP from the University of Minnesota. Betsy worked extensively in critical care as a staff nurse and advanced practice nurse before becoming a nurse educator. She has also worked in care transitions and care coordination. Betsy has been married to husband Bill for 20 years; they have a 19-year-old son, Brenton. “Faith Community Nursing allows, or sometimes challenges, me to use everything I have learned throughout my nursing career. There are so many opportunities to serve our communities and their varied populations, meeting spiritual, physical and behavioral health needs.”

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