Against stress? A good book. In fact, reading is the most effective remedy ever, even better than a cup of tea, music or a walk, to reduce stress levels in the body. And 6 minutes of reading are enough to see the benefits! This emerges from an English research from the University of Sussex (Lewis et al, Galaxy Stress Research. Mindlab International, Sussex University, UK, 2009).
Stress, when it's too much it hurts
We are all called upon to deal with stress. To some extent, stress is also good for your health. Short moments of stress, such as an exam to be faced or a test at work, actually help to strengthen the immune system, making us stronger against diseases and infections (Segerstrom et al, Psychol Bull, 2004). The problem is chronic stress, which instead weakens our defenses, makes us sick, impairs memory and cognitive function, increases the risk of developing anxiety, depression, asthma, cardiovascular disease and some types of cellular degeneration. That's why it's important to be able to keep chronic stress at bay by distracting the mind and relaxing. But how to do all this? The study we are talking about today offers the answer.
Reading reduces stress, the study
Scientists at the University of Sussex subjected the volunteers to a series of tests and examinations in order to increase stress levels. Stress was measured by heart rate and muscle tension. Volunteers were asked to choose between one of the remedies available to lower stress, namely reading a book, listening to music, drinking herbal tea or going for a walk. Well, what emerged was that after just 6 minutes of silent reading, stress levels were reduced by 68%. On the other hand, as for the other interventions, listening to music produced a 61% reduction in stress, drinking herbal tea a 54% reduction and taking a walk a 42% reduction of stress. The point is, when we go for a walk with a problem in our head, we often can't put it aside and the brain keeps mulling over it. Instead, when we read a book, our attention is completely captured by the action we are doing and the problems go into the background.
The other benefits of reading
Reading therefore reduces stress and, as the research has shown, each book is suitable for this purpose, the important thing is that it is a book that can interest us and capture our attention. But reading doesn't just lower stress levels. In fact, reading a good book, whether in print or digitally, has proven to be a valuable source of benefits, such as, for example, extending lifespan and counteracting the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia. In fact, those who have a habit of reading books have a 20% lower probability than those who do not read books of developing diseases capable of shortening the duration of life (Bavishi et al, Social Science and Medicine, 2016). Not only that, those who read regularly have a lower risk of developing dementia, being more protected from the formation of protein aggregates at the base of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. So, all that remains is to choose a good book and ... dive into reading!