Hobbies that calm you down: Reading

Girl, reading, book Fortepan 5355

By FOTO:Fortepan — ID 5355: Adományozó/Donor : Kurutz Márton. [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A while back I wrote a post about how writing can help you calm down when you’re stressed (click here to see that post–put link here–). In this post I’m going to talk about the thing that usually goes hand in hand with writing, reading.

Personally I really like reading. My favourite genres are fantasy, science fiction and mystery though I won’t say no to a good thriller either. I won’t just read books though, I read comic books too. I know a lot of people might say that isn’t really reading even though there are words in the comics, but at the end of the day it’s the story I’m looking at not the mode in which it is told.

Little fun fact: I didn’t like reading when I was young; I was more into cartoons on T.V. I wasn’t even interested in reading Harry Potter when it first came out because it was a book. The only reason why I read it was because my mother pretty much forced me to. I can’t thank my mother enough for making me do that; if it wasn’t for her I would never have learnt about the wonderful world of Hogwarts. So I credit J.K. Rowling and my mother for my love of reading.

Wow we got a bit off topic there, moving on. So how can reading help you with stress and anxiety and all that stuff? Well first of, I’ll start with my own observations and then I’ll go into the evidence. When you read a good book, be it one with some kind of story, one filled with facts or some other type, you’re pretty much giving all your attention to the book, it sucks you in and you forget about everything else including the stuff that stresses you out; it’s pretty much a way to distract yourself (like most of the other stuff on this blog). In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a book; it could be a magazine or a newspaper or articles on the internet or a blog like this one.  It’s a mark of good writing if the readers get hooked on it and lose themselves in the writing.

I remember when I was reading the fifth book of Harry Potter; I would come back from school and just start reading the book. Hours would go by and I wouldn’t even be aware of it, a lot of the time I was only snapped back to reality because my mother or father would call me for something (mostly chores). It was also a good way for me to forget about all the crap that happened in school.

So that’s my take on it, now let’s look at some of the scientific evidence. According to the findings of a study from the University of Sussex, reading even for just 6 minutes can reduce your stress levels by two-thirds! The reason? Psychologists say that when we read, our mind has to concentrate on reading which distracts us and eases the tension in our hearts and muscles, which is more less what I said earlier. In the Sussex study, the researchers found that reading reduced stress levels by 68 per cent, compared to listening to music which reduced the levels by 61%, having a cup of tea or coffee lowered them by 54% and taking a walk by 42%. You can read more about the study here.

So there you have it everyone, if you want to reduce stress you should try reading more. What you read is entirely up to you whether it is tweets and Facebook updates or books and newspapers, try reading more to reduce your stress. Or you could read my blog more often; it would make me happier if nothing else!

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