Reading may be the best way to help you unwind in a flash—better than listening to music, sipping tea, or going for a walk, said David Lewis, cognitive neuropsychologist at Mindlab International.
Lewis shared this theory in a video created by Time to Read, a partnership of public library authorities in the Northwest England.
To test it, researchers measured stress levels of participants aged 19 to 54 by analyzing heart rate and skin conduction with a method similar to what is used in polygraph tests.
Heart rates were first increased through a series of time-racing exercises and tests.
Once stress levels were up, participants were asked to choose one of five ways to relax for six minutes—sipping a cup of tea or coffee, going for a walk outdoors, listening to The Beatles’ music, playing a video game, or reading their favorite book. Book genres varied, including travel, romance, crime, and historical fiction.
Of the five activities, reading had the greatest calming effect, dropping stress levels by 68 percent. Listening to music followed at 61 percent; sipping tea or coffee at 54 percent; walking outdoors at 42 percent; and playing video games at only 21 percent.
When you read, Lewis explained, you enter a different level of consciousness, temporarily allowing your mind and senses an escape from the real world. The effect is the same with any genre, as long as your mind is fully engaged.
“By losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book, you can escape the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” Lewis concluded in the video.
I invite you to explore my imaginary world in my soon-to-be released novel Breakfast Tea & Bourbon.After escaping into the imaginary treasure hunt in the story, embark on your own adventure by following the clues woven into the book to an actual $50,000 treasure hidden somewhere in the United States.
You could experience not only the mental and physical relaxation reading brings, but potentially the financial relief an extra $50,000 might bring!