Reading has become a neglected activity in today's age of smartphones, social media, and video games. More than often when we are not occupied with our jobs or daily chores, we are distracted by online activities on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Skype.To get out of the mundanity of our lives, we seek out pleasurable activities like partying, clubbing or gossiping. Yet focusing on these external factors have largely led to less productivity and increased levels of stress in many of us.

Research has shown that even six minutes of reading every day can bring about innumerable health benefits while at the same time transform us into happier and stronger individuals.

This is because reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Reading is immensely healthy and a great workout for the mind

Just like our body, our brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly for better performance and productivity. A study conducted in the recent times shows that when it comes to reducing stress, reading beats out all the other stress releasing activities like listening to music, taking a walk or relishing a cup of coffee. It is a form of meditation that helps calm the restless mind and gives us tranquility, which in turn lowers our heartbeat and pulse.

Sometimes we are bogged down by everyday problems and feel frustrated trying to work things out. We over-think our problems which lead to increase in stress and depression.

But we don't need to travel to another part of the world to escape from our problems nor do we need to rely on our friends who may not be always available. Then again, indulging in activities like clubbing and partying are not only expensive but leave us with an empty feeling when we are already disturbed.

To help us find respite, all we need to do is sit in a comfortable and cozy place at home with a good book in hand.

Once we are immersed in the book we tend to forget our worries for the time being. We are immersed in the present moment and are free from any kind of stress. However, we must take care not to read anything heavy like the stock market news or scientific journals. We must read for pleasure or anything that piques our interest.

Once we forget our problems and feel calmer we can go back to find a solution to our problems with a relaxed mind.

Reading helps to increase our focus and concentration

Before we are on our way to school or at work, reading a few minutes will help to increase our focus. It involves intellectual activity and concentration that leads to an increased neurological activity of the brain. This, in turn, enhances mental stimulation that keeps the brain active and sharpens its logical activity. Research has shown that reading prohibits the brain from losing its power and helps prevent Alzheimer's, Dementia, and general memory loss that comes with age.

Reading makes us smarter as it increases our knowledge and makes us better equipped in our personal and professional lives.

Information and knowledge in various spheres coupled with a good vocabulary enhance our personality. It improves our soft skills and helps us in our interviews, promotions, social networking, public speaking and various other spheres of life. It gives us more confidence as we become better conversationalists and this helps us mingle easily as well as be comfortable in any social gathering.

Reading increases our emotional intelligence, creativity, and problem-solving skills

We become better individuals as we can learn from other people's experiences. Many people have become wealthy and successful reading success stories of mentors like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffet. Self-help books and memoirs can be inspirational as well as help solve our personal problems in life.

Our empathy increases as we delve into the emotions and feelings of a character which we would have never known otherwise. This helps in building better relationships since our understanding and perceptions of other people increase. This will, in turn, make us happier individuals, as we have stronger connections with our family, friends, and acquaintances.

Reading stimulates our creativity. This is because our imagination is fuelled when we mentally travel through the different places in the story, envision the characters and relate to their emotions. It triggers our curiosity and ushers in critical thinking as we analyze and make connections with the different characters, plots, subplots or try to solve the mystery.

Our brain is led to follow the sequence of the story as we explore the motivation behind the characters, the confrontation, and the resolution. This exposure to the logic and structure of fiction promotes quicker thinking while at the same time enhances our problem-solving skills. As we assimilate more information we create new brain pathways as well as strengthen the existing ones, thereby boosting our memory power.

We become better writers when we read more as we get to observe the style and techniques of other writers. We also get ideas and inspiration for new stories or articles. Our increased vocabulary from regular reading helps transition our writing into high quality and rich content.