How Audiobooks Improve Our Mental Health

Happy Thursday, audiophiles!

This week has been audiobooks week over at Book Riot, so we’ve got *two* audiobook newsletters for you this week–-stay tuned for another one tomorrow!

Sponsored by Flatiron Books, publishers of Mirage by Somaiya Daud

An “enriching, thrilling, and captivating” (BuzzFeed) epic fantasy inspired by the author Somaiya Daud’s Moroccan heritage about a poor young woman who must become the body double of a princess of a ruthless empire.

Meanwhile, I would be a terribly negligent audiobooks editor if I didn’t mention the massive “As You Wish” sale that Audible has going on until September 2th. They’ve put together a list of books that frequently end up on Audible Wish Lists for $5.95 each. You do have to be an Audible member or a “light customer” (I don’t know what that means, but hopefully if you are one, you do).

I picked up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before because people are raving about the movie and I definitely want to listen to it before I see the film. Anyway, if you’re an Audible member (or light customer), go stock up while the getting is good.

Also, it’s your LAST CHANCE to enter to win 16 books recommended on the Recommended podcast! Enter here!

I cannot express how much I love hearing all the different ways that audiobooks help with your mental health. Like this two hilariously relatable examples. The first comes from Heather:

“Hope this isn’t too mean for you. My 78-year-old mother is very immature and a drama queen. Twice a year, I drive the 2-hour drive to the shore and back a few days later with her riding shotgun. She has certain things that she always complains about, when I list solutions, she is unwilling to try anything. BUT. When I pick her up and have an audiobook playing (she hates audio books, tho she’s never tried one herself) and I apologize and tell her I MUST finish this for work before we start vacation, she doesn’t whine. AND SHE LOVES THE STORY, then says: maybe I should try those.”

Similarly relatable (at least for me) comes from another reader:

“I used to have a problem with road rage, I drove to downtown DC daily and just would get very competitive and angry about getting stuck behind someone making a left turn, or someone who seemed to be jockeying for my position or to jump in front, etcetera and just in general, being impatient, infuriated and rude, including gesturing and mouthing angry words.  I started listening to books on tape, from the library, while driving. I believe it started when I was listening to Harry Potter books with my son, who had also read them and wanted me to do so as well, but I knew I’d never have the time. (I later realized I loved reading them as much as listening but they are a special category all their own). Maybe it was before that, but I found that listening to books on tape, and later, on CD, completely removed me from the anxiety and angry mindset I was used to when driving.  I just didn’t care that much anymore, cut me off, not interested, sure, go ahead….. I was really so much more relaxed. The radio did not have that effect on me at all. Now, the main stress is coming to the end of a book and having nothing suitable to listen to next. I have several possibilities from the library with me in the car at all times, so usually I’m covered.”

I very much relate to this. Being stuck in traffic used to drive me absolutely batty (and sometimes it still does), but if I’m listening to a good audiobook, being stuck in traffic feels more like a lucky break than a pain in the butt.

And as much as audiobooks help our mental health when it comes to melodramatic mothers and road rage, but they can be helpful in even more consequential ways.

Christina wrote, “I have ADHD and listening to audiobooks helps me get through books faster than normal because I can do other things and listen to the reading, instead of only reading. I can’t focus more than 2 or 3 hours consistently with most things and doing only 1 thing at a time can be frustrating when there’s so many things on my mind, but with audiobooks I not only get some reading done, I can also be productive (or lazy, depending on my mood).”

Katherine discovered audiobooks could be a part of her self-care while she was in law school, and it’s stuck with her. She says, “Audiobooks were a very important piece of my self-care routine during law school. At the end of the day, I would be dying for a mental break/escape after classes and hundreds of pages of reading and outlining, but my eyes would be tired and I also had SO many other things that I needed to do in the 1-2 hours of “free” time I squeezed in most days (like…laundry and eating and bathing and very occasionally working out), so sitting down to read for fun wasn’t a real option. BUT I could do all of those things and listen to an audiobook at the same time, which let me escape into a story for the mental break I needed while simultaneously addressing my physical needs.  Stories have always been my lifeline in the midst of depression and audiobooks are my preferred method of delivery when things get insane and it’s taking every bit of time to just stay marginally on top of things.”

SO MUCH THIS. I feel like audiobooks have gotten me through some rough periods without me even realizing it. Because sometimes all you have the energy to do is curl up in the bed in the dark. And being able to escape into another world when that happens is priceless.

And last but certainly not least is Mandy who says, “I listen to audiobooks all the time, as I am blind. I couldn’t do without audiobooks, they’ve saved my sanity numerous times. Just switching off and listening to an audiobook is so calming and relaxing, especially if you can get into the story and almost live it.”

I love that description. When an audiobook is super captivating, it really does feel like you’re living it.

Thanks to Mandy and everyone else who responded. As always, you can find me on twitter at msmacb and via email at Stay tuned for another audiobooks newsletter tomorrow!