Want a natural way to reduce stress by 68 percent? Read.
To improve anxiety, turn a page of a real book or magazine. This tactile movement is meditative. It not only improves cognition and development but also stimulates creativity and calm. Turning a page of a book stimulates the nerve ending in fingertips igniting touch receptor organs. Our receptor organs directly link to our spinal cord and neurological brain patterning.
Reading a book makes us smarter but also empathetic humans.
A 2009 study by the University of Sussex researchers found reading for as few as six minutes reduced stress by as much as 68 percent.
The researchers also found that reading reduced stress better and more quickly than other methods like listening to music (at a 61 percent reduction), drinking tea or coffee (a 54 percent reduction), or going for a walk (a 42 percent reduction). It was founded the concentration taken in reading a good book helps distract the brain away from anxious and stressful thinking, which reduces heart rate and muscle tension caused by stress.
Reading also engages the imagination and stimulates creativity, which engage the brain’s prefrontal cortex areas that house the “anxiety brake,” an important part of the brain that shuts off the emergency response. Dr. David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist who conducted the study said, “It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by turn a page and 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.”
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
Reading books, particularly fiction, fully engages the mind and imagination. Any activity that possesses meditative qualities in which the brain is fully focused on a single task is proven to reduce stress and enhance relaxation.
Keep in mind that it will take time for the body to calm down from an active stress response.
Once stress hormones are in the bloodstream, the body will need to either use or expel them before you can feel calmer as you feel calmer, the fear centre of the brain (amygdala and others) becomes less active, and the rationalisation areas of the brain (cortex and others) become more active.
Researchers have also linked reading to good brain health in old age. Individuals who turn a page regularly across their lifespan showed increased mental capacity as they aged. Those individuals who read less suffer a mental decline that was 48 percent faster than those who kept their brains active reading. Another study found a positive association between cognitive based activities such as reading and a decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors have prescribed reading as a treatment for many mental health conditions. The goal is to bring the benefits of reading to millions of patients with anxiety and depression. People who read often, become more empathetic.
Finding time for reading has also helped individuals to become more empathetic and increase their self-awareness. As readers become engrossed in a storyline, they empathise with characters and learn their motivations and behaviour patterns. This increases a person’s understanding of human behaviour. Furthermore, when readers select novels that are set in locations with cultures other than their own, they further develop an awareness of diverse human populations and perspectives. Interacting with a book and using our brain to imagine, the visual also stimulates brain activity compared to ‘watching’ a on a device.
Books also support fine motor skill development and neurological maintenance for all human life. By reading a tangible, touch and feel book or magazine will increase cognition. The seemly simple act of turning pages and following a pointed finger tracing words as we read but pointing also flexes those finger muscles. Stretching the finger muscles to point can further refine fine motor skill and reaction times. As ageing occurs maintaining fine motor skill and neurological development is imperative. The nerve endings in the fingertips perform complex neural computations that are carried out by the brain. As we age our brains shrink in volume, particularly in the frontal cortex. Memory decline also occurs with ageing and brain activation becomes more bilateral for memory tasks. Reading a book maintain brain function.
Put down that smooth screened, white light device and open a book and turn the page. Your brain, spine and fingertips will thank you to live longer and with a happier mind. With all these benefits, there is no doubt that reading is truly the powerhouse of purposeful body activities. When you’re done reading this article why not shut down your computer and pick up a good book or a WellBeing magazine.
Health and Happiness,