Handling Stress (Reading)

Change can add to people's stress level. In fact, stress levels are at an all-time high.

"...the problem is the more stressed you are, the more susceptible you are to stress-related illnesses. These include the likes of heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and depression among others......stress has links to more than half of all illnesses, which puts a strain not only on your body but also your wallet..."
University of Minnesota 2019

Despite having much required reading in our daily lives like newspaper, magazines, traffic signs, e-mails, correspondence, etc, reading for pleasure and enjoyment is important as it reduces stress and related health issues like depression. It can be an escape from the stress of everyday life, ie it is a distraction from your daily stresses.

"...Reading can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles..."
University of Minnesota 2019

These physical reactions make reading similar to meditation, which is a well known way to reduce stress, ie health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm.

"...Six minutes of reading can reduce stress by up to 68%..."
 University of Sussex as quoted by University of Minnesota 2019

Also,
"...Reading is 300% more effective at reducing stress than going for a walk....regular readers sleep better..."
University of Minnesota 2019

"...reading a novel can affect your brain two days after reading......show heightened activity in the left lateral cortex, a link to how receptive we are to language......mental stimulation that comes from reading helps preserve brain cells......who regularly use your brain in a way that helps keep it fit......reading protects our brain regarding memory and is one of the better ways of keeping your mind from suffering mental illnesses later in life..."
Emory University as quoted by University of Minnesota 2019

Stress lowers your immunity and makes you susceptible to more illnesses and less able to fight them. It can also result in comfort eating, drug and alcohol abuse plus increased anxiety and the risk of Type II diabetes.
Despite being one of the most beneficial ways of reducing stress, reading for pleasure is on the decline.

It is one of the most effective relaxation methods as your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors that plague daily life.

Ideally set aside 30 minutes to read every day in a quiet place where you won't be interrupted, eg a calm environment, without distractions like mobile phones, radio, other people, too much background noise, etc.
Some tips to help get started and keep going

i) choose subject matter that
- captures your interest
- allows your mind to relax

- you enjoy, ie a hobby.

NB Don't read something that will upset you, make you feel angry or helpless, etc

Reading enjoyable material makes it easier to develop and maintain reading as a habit. Joining a book community/club can help motivate you to develop reading as a habit and socialising with other people can also be a way to reduce stress.

ii) take note of how you feel after your reading break (if you are feeling more relaxed, that's good. On the other hand, if you feel still overwhelmed, you need to explore the source of your anxiety).

NB Do what you can to make the reading experience as enjoyable as possible.

Reading can provide the "relaxing escapism", ie put you in another world away from all your challenges, stresses, etc. It can give you another perspective.

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