Reading slowly can help you concentrate and reduce stress levels

booksdeskThere is no doubt that electronic gadgets have taken over our lives. It is not possible to walk down a street without seeing several people on their cell phones. Coffee shops and even restaurants frequently have people sat staring at their tablets or smart phone, checking their social media status.

Being exposed to electronic gadgets and constantly available to all and sundry can become very stressful. Constant connectivity provides very little time to unwind and relax which can mean our bodies are constantly stressed. There are many pressures increasing stress in our daily lives and sometimes there seems to be no avenue to remove or lower this stress level.

Reading to Relax

There has been a wide variety of research programs into dealing with stress and several theories point to reading as being one of the best forms of unwinding and lowering stress levels. The research suggests that as little as six minutes can be enough to help although periods of half an hour or longer can be more beneficial.

How does reading lower stress levels?

Reading, particularly without distractions allows your mind to immerse itself in a different world. It does not appear to matter whether you are reading fiction or non-fiction. As you enter another world your brain concentrates on only this and allows everything else to fade into the background. This allows the rest of your body to relax, helped by the fact that reading is normally accomplished whilst sitting down. As muscles relax and your heart beats slower the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your system lowers and stress levels drop.

The Research

The University of Sussex in England carried out a research project with the help of volunteers. This research project was funded by Galaxy Chocolate who is intending to give away 1 million books over the next six months to encourage people to read more. All volunteers were monitored and put through a variety of exercises and tests to ensure they had elevated levels of stress. They were then given a variety of ways to relax. The process was repeated for each of the following relaxation methods:

  • Listening to music was an effective way of reducing stress levels by 61%
  • Drinking a cup of tea or coffee lowered the stress levels by 54%
  • Taking a stroll, not a strenuous walk lowered levels by 42%
  • Video games were not particularly effective at lowering stress levels as they only came down by 21%. Interestingly, this activity left all volunteers with elevated heart rates.
  • Reading a book proved to be the best way to lower stress levels as they came down by 68%.

Additional Benefits

Reading a book is certainly a good way of lowering stress levels and removing someone from the real world for a short while. Reading can take people to places they might never have been or never even dreamed of where the only limitation is the imagination. In a world where electronic gadgetry is the norm it can be essential to find a way to escape and feel human again.

Reading is also an excellent way of increasing the level of vocabulary and encouraging the creative side of the mind. It can be very easy to accept everything at face value and focus on the next task, just trying to get through each day. However, this has a negative impact on the ability to be creative and even spontaneous. It is even possible to run on autopilot for days at a time, stuck in the same routine. Writing restores the creativity and allows our imaginations to run wild – it is a skill which should never be lost.

Because we live in a hectic society and we have hectic jobs, some of us barely have time to read the newspaper. However, you should make time to read a book at least once a month. There’s no rush. Take your time, concentrate and just relax. At the end of each chapter you will feel so much better. Give yourself a break from the everyday routine and dive into a world where you make the rules. Your stress levels will be reduced and you will feel more rejuvenated than ever before.

Author Bio: Edward Francis is a tech writer basically and he loves reading books. His favorite hobby is to read eBooks and he prefers http://www.lovereading.co.uk/ to get a variety of books at the same place.

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sheila_sund/8385443316

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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