Reading for just six minutes reduces your stress more than pretty much anything else
Feel like the madness of December has left you worn out and exhausted?
You are not alone, this time of year might be the most wonderful there is, but jeepers, it is exhausting too.
The good news? There is a simple thing you can do that has been proven to significantly lower your stress levels – in no time at all.
Just pick up a book.
Yep, that's right. A recent study has shown that just six minutes of sustained reading can reduce stress by a whopping 68 percent – and help you get back in the game with a less tense body and a clearer mind.
Mindlab International researchers at the University of Sussex took the stress levels and heart rates of a group of test subjects before engaging them in a variety of different activities while monitoring their signs of stress. And what they found was that there are other things you can do to lower your stress as well, such as listening to music (reduces stress by 61 percent), having a cup of tea (reduces stress by 54 percent) and talking a walk (reduces stress by 42 percent).
But nothing measured up to that of reading a book.
“Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation," explains researcher and cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis. "It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination.”
Lewis was also quick to point out that reading is much more than a distraction – if it was distractions we were after, well then you imagine that a scroll through Instagram or a video game would have the same effect. And it does not.
“This is more than merely a distraction,” Lewis explained, “but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.”
And while all reading is good for your stress levels, it seems novels and fiction are the best, as reading the news can end up causing distress.
So there you have it – maybe it's time to pause your Netflix subscription for a while and instead get back into the habit of reading a book before you go to sleep at night?