Reading is the best way relax and lower stress levels, more effective than listening to music, drinking tea or coffee, taking a walk or playing video games.
According to researchers at Britain's University of Sussex, even six minutes of silent reading can cut your stress by 68 percent, slowing the heart rate and easing heart and muscle tension.
"Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation," said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis, who conducted the study for the university's Mindlab International. "This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination."
The words on the printed page, he said, stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.
This is good news for readers and bookstores. But it's also great news for writers. We're the ones whose creative imaginations get those words onto the page and whose literary worlds can be so therapeutic -- for ourselves and for others.
By the way, the study found that music reduced stress levels by 61 percent, a cup of tea of coffee dropped them by 54 percent, walking lowered them by 42 per cent and playing video games brought them down by 21 percent.
The research was commissioned by Britain's Galaxy chocolate in support of a campaign to give away a million books over the next six months. The study was reported today in the online edition Marie Claire magazine.
The report failed to note whether chocolate consumption (Galaxy's or otherwise) was an effective stress-reducer!
Other Voice of Your Muse posts about reading:
• Read to Write
• The Life Affirming Experience of Reading
Image: "Old Woman Reading" by Rembrandt