Find out how a good book can relieve your stress in just six minutes, and other benefits of reading, according to science.
By Tania Jasso Blancas
Among the most important topics that scientists and doctors have researched in order to improve people's quality of life, there's one of particular importance. Most researchers agree that a key factor for whether or not we lead healthy lives is stress, or lack thereof. With our modern lifestyles, always rushed and filled with heavy workloads, people end their days exhausted and tense. This is why stress-relieving methods are at the center of the conversation regarding healthy lifestyles, as stress is currently considered to be one of the main obstacles standing in the way between you and well-being.
How to fight stress with a book?
Recently, the University of Sussex published a study suggesting that reading might be the best way to relax, since only six minutes of reading focus are enough to reduce stress levels by as much as 67%. This can be conveniently achieved in our commutes, before an interview, a meeting, or what have you. Words have a way to generate images that stimulate several regions in the brain, which promotes creative thought. This, in turn, relaxes the reader, whose health benefits as a result.
The same study revealed that reading is better and faster than many other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or walking. This is due to the fact that the human mind is focused on the text, and this form of distraction from other activities, which allows readers to delve into a literary world, eases the muscles and relaxes our heartbeat.
Six minutes make all the difference
People who participated in the study only needed six minutes of quiet, focused reading to reduce cardiac pressure and erase muscle tension. They also benefited from lower stress levels throughout the day.
Dr. David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist in charge of the study, said about its conclusion that to lose oneself in a book is the best form of relaxation.
"This is particularly poignant in uncertain economic times when we are all craving a certain amount of escapism," he concluded. "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."
So, it's safe to say that reading is much more than your average distraction, as many believe, or a mere mental exercise, as many others claim. Enjoy the books you love and keep yourself healthy by reducing your stress levels easily and quickly in the process.
Translated by Oliver G. Alvar
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