Why reading poetry is good for your health


Unrecognizable young woman reading a book.
Unrecognizable young woman reading a book.
In a world where fast is the new slow, it’s important to take a few minutes for ourselves and do something to provide a bit of respite. We suggest reading poetry as a way to unwind - here’s why…

Pouring a glass of wine, booking a massage, spending an evening alone… these are all things we do to try and take care of ourselves. Poetry is usually way down the list of remedies, in fact, most of us probably haven’t picked up a poetry book since high school.

Skimming the pages of a fast-paced novel is one thing but just sitting and slowly reading a short verse or two is quite another.

Reading poetry serves as a digital detox and also expands our knowledge. It can also provide a great escape to somewhere new and wonderful. Here are a few more reasons why reading poetry is good for our health…

It slows us down

The pace of life moves so fast – from answering emails while taking a walk, to hurriedly making an online clothing purchase. Taking time out to read a poem, letting yourself slowly absorb each verse, will slow you down naturally. Try reading the words aloud, soaking in the meaning of each word.

It widens our vocabulary and cultural knowledge

Reading poetry gives us a rare opportunity to interact with the very best of wordsmiths, increasing our vocabulary through the use of interesting words in beautiful ways. There’s a freedom in the way poets can express themselves that prose rarely matches, and it helps teach us to be more imaginative in our thought and how we express ourselves. There are many great poets to choose from, from all different centuries and cultural backgrounds, and they all provide different insights into humanity, opening our eyes to a world of different experiences.

It prevents isolation and depression

Reading other people’s experiences, both bad and good, helps us to realise we’re not alone in what we’re going through. We take comfort in knowing we are not isolated in our struggles, that somebody has felt this way before. If you’re anxious, melancholy or grieving, the poet’s words mean that you no longer have to feel alone, and poetry can give hope for the future and even some excellent advice.

It can boost your mood

Poetry isn’t just for leaning on during hard times. Reading a poem that encapsulates how it feels to be deliriously happy, or perfectly tranquil, or deeply in love, can make you feel euphoric. It’s one of the reasons that sharing poetry is so popular at weddings.

It can provide calm

Reciting a silly poem when you’re feeling like you’re going to lose your cool is a good way to regain composure. Letting the words wash over you helps you to take a second out of reality and realise that what you’re currently mad about will pass. Try memorising a happy or humorous poem to recite when you feel your blood pressure rising.


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