Reading For 6 Minutes Each Day Can Reduce Stress By 68 Percent, Study Says

"Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation."

It's practically impossible to avoid stress in today's hectic world. With so many tasks begging for our attention, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and overworked. Yet, while there are numerous mobile apps dedicated to helping people relax and regroup, the most effective tool for stress relief might've been sitting on our shelves the entire time.

According to a recent study, six minutes of sustained reading each day can reduce a person's stress level by 68 percent, thereby helping individuals to clear their minds and minimize bodily tension.

Researchers from Mindlab International at the University of Sussex calculated the stress levels and heart rates of test subjects before observing their responses to various activities. Reading a book lowered stress levels better than all other activities tested, including listening to music (61 percent), having a cup of tea of coffee (54 percent), and taking a walk (42 percent). On the contrary, playing video games lowered stress levels by 21 percent, but increased heart rate.

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"Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation," Dr. David Lewis, researcher and cognitive neuropsychologist, said. "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."

"This is more than merely a distraction," he added, "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."

While a recent survey  from the American Psychological Association found that, for many Americans, "news consumption has a downside," as more than half of those polled say the news causes them stress, including anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss, reading fiction can actually increase empathy, build vocabulary, boost creativity, improve happiness, and keep your mind sharp as you age. Thus, integrating these six minutes into your daily routine has significant health benefits. 

For those who can't find the motivation to read each day, there are plenty of places to find inspiration. Many local libraries have book clubs that gather every few weeks to discuss their pick-of-the-month. Public figures, such as former president Barack Obama, are also notorious for sharing their favorite books with the public. If meet-ups aren't your scene, for example, numerous celebrities have formed online book clubs that allow you to read along without attending formal discussions. Oprah's Book Club, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club x Hello Sunshine, and Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf are great places to begin!

Cover image via  Vadim Georgiev / Shutterstock

(H/T: Scary Mommy)

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