Reading for Stress Relief
It is a proven fact that reading can help reduce stress. Many of us take this simple act for granted, because we have so much "required" reading in our daily lives-the newspaper, traffic signs, emails, and bills. But how often do we read for pleasure?
Reading can be a wonderful (and healthy) escape from the stress of everyday life. Simply by opening a book, you allow yourself to be invited into a literary world that distracts you from your daily stressors. Reading can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. This is because your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors that plague your daily life.
Find a book or magazine that piques your interest-a romantic paperback, gardening magazine, or even a cookbook. Set aside 30 minutes to read every day in a quiet place where you won't be interrupted. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- The book you choose doesn't have to be on any "best-seller" list. The important thing is that the subject matter has captured your interest and will provide a space for your mind to relax in every day.
- Reading only helps reduce your stress if you pick something you enjoy that won't upset you. Reading the news may not be the best choice if it makes you feel angry or helpless. Pick a novel where you can escape into another world. Or read about an activity that you enjoy-- a hobby, travel, cooking.
- Take note of how you feel after your reading break. Have you been able to let go of some of your stressors? If you still feel overwhelmed, take our Stress Assessment to explore the source of your anxieties and take charge of your wellbeing.