Reading For 6 Minutes Reduces Stress Better Than Other Activities

woman reading

People have many different ways of dealing with stress. Many like to go for a long walk, head out for a run or hit the gym to try to alleviate the stress in their lives. Others use therapy or meditation as a means of calming themselves down and getting to the root of what causes them stress. A new study however is proving that reading for as little as just 6 minutes a day can reduce stress better than many other activities.

Cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis explained to The Telegraph that reading reduced stress levels by 68%, which was more than other typical stress reducing activities such as going for a walk, relaxing with a hot cup of coffee or listening to music.

Mindlab International at the University of Sussex conducted their research on a group of volunteers. The volunteers were put through a series of exercises meant to increase their stress levels and heart rate, then a variety of means of relaxation were used to test which method was more effective.

Dr. Lewis found that reading quietly, for as little as just 6 minutes, not only was the most effective means of lowering stress, but for many of the subjects reading lowered their stress levels even lower than when they began the testing. He explained that the function of reading and the concentration it requires, not to mention the distraction from everyday life getting lost in a good book provides effectively helps to reduce stress.

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"Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation," Dr. Lewis stated. "This is particularly poignant in uncertain economic times when we are all craving a certain amount of escapism."

pregnant mama reading
Credit: iStock / tatyana_tomsickova

While other forms of relaxation proved effective as well in reducing stress, those who love to read are no doubt not surprised by this finding. The best part is that it doesn't matter what kinds of books you like to read, it's simply the action of taking some time to focus on something other than what is causing your stress. Whether it's a memoir, fiction or non fiction, self help, or even home renovation book, simply letting yourself get lost in the words of others can do wonders.

"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," Dr. Lewis explained.

"This is more than merely a distraction 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."

woman reading with child
Credit: iStock / monkeybusinessimages

So if listening to music, going for a walk or enjoying a cocktail still leave you feeling a little bit stressed, try picking up a book. We all can use a little encouragement to read a bit more, and this sounds like the perfect reason to take some much needed "me time."

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