Reading Reduces Stress. Fact.

Black and white image of hands holding an open book on a turqoise background. Message reads 'Take a Break with a Book'.

Most of us relate to the fact that losing yourself in a book is a great form of escapism and relaxation, but did you know that reading has been proven to reduce stress levels, lower heart rate, and ease tension in the muscles more effectively than other methods? No? Then read on…

According to research carried out by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex, reading for only 6 minutes reduces stress levels by 68%, making it more effective than listening to music 61%, having a cuppa 54%, taking a walk by 42%, or playing video games 21%. Dr. David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist who conducted the study agrees that reading a book is the ultimate relaxation but goes further to say, “This is more than merely a distraction 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.”

Researchers believe that the concentration required for reading has a physiological effect on the brain, engages the imagination and stimulates creativity, all contributing to a shutdown of the emergency fight or flight response. As the stress hormones dissipate, the fear centre of the brain becomes less active and the rationalisation areas of the brain take over. This shift in the brain makes you feel calmer and more in control.

Next time you feel overwhelmed, pick up a book from our Medicine in Literature Collection and feel the stress melt away. As always, happy reading!

Lewis, D. (2009), Galaxy Stress Research, Mindlab International, Sussex University, UK.

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