Reading Reduces Stress

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Every day I have so much reading to do – it might be emails, newspapers, magazines or blogs. It’s almost as if I’ve got to the stage of forgetting what it’s like to read for pleasure. I used to read novels regularly but, these days, having so many vocational magazines to read and keep me up to date professionally, my love of reading for relaxation has become a casualty.
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By the time I’ve finished all the required reading there barely seems to be any time left to read for pleasure. And yet I really miss it. I miss those moments of getting so deeply involved in a book that I’m really upset when it comes to an end - I’ve become so caught up with the characters that they’ve become part of my life, albeit for a short time. When I close the book on the final page, I sit back feeling like I have just lost a good friend.

It’s well known that reading can help reduce stress by relaxing your body, lowering your heart rate and easing muscle tension. In many ways, reading can help relax you even more quickly than other activities, such as having a hot drink or listening to music. This is because your mind is transported into a fictitious world – a world of colour and imagination, far from your daily stressors.

How Reading Can Help You Switch Off? 

Find a book that interests you. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a bestseller or something else – what’s important is that you engage with the writer and you’re in tune with what they’re saying. Alternatively, you may prefer to read a magazine - it can be on any subject, it doesn’t have to be about business. My favourite magazines are on personal interests including opera, gardening and my love of old buildings and architecture. So, whatever your favourite subject, choose something to read about that, take time out from your busy day, and transport yourself into another world.

These are my top tips to get you started:

  • Carve out time in your busy life to sit and read something that will help your brain switch off from everyday stressors
  • Before you start reading, think about how stressed you may be feeling at the time and then, when you‘ve finished reading, think about how you feel then. My guess is that you will feel less stressed after reading
  • Read about a hobby you love, or a place you’d like to visit. Keep pages you enjoyed reading in a magazine and create a ‘dream book’ of your favourite places or things to do. When you’re feeling stressed, just open it up and smile as you read about favourite destinations or activities
  • Magazine articles and books can be read over and over again – reading them doesn’t have to be a one-off activity. If you loved a book, keep it in a special place on your bookshelf so you can dip into it at any time
  • If there are particular passages that you enjoyed, mark the place with post-it notes so you know where to find them again

   

Carole Spiers

CEO

Carole Spiers Group

International Stress Management & Wellbeing Consultancy


About

Author of "Show Stress Who's Boss" Carole is a leading authority on workplace stress, sought after BBC guest-Broadcaster and motivational speaker. She shows managers and staff how to maintain their competitive advantage by achieving a healthy work life balance.

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