• Erin Gahan

How Books Can Help Reduce Anxiety and Stress

There is something so satisfying about curling up with a good book.

Whether it’s being carried away to the vivid and powerful world of a novel like the 2020 best new release, Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy or learning a new skill from a helpful manual like Going Off the Grid: The How-To-Book of Simple Living and Happiness by Gary Collins books can help us live happier, healthier lives.

Stress is a normal part of life. It is triggered by the life-saving fight or flight response that we all have embedded within our DNA. Our ancestors needed this mechanism to survive if they were being attacked by a saber tooth tiger.

For modern day humans, the problem is, our fight or flight response is provoked multiple times a day- from waking up to an alarm to watching the news, our bodies are being flooded with stress hormones which can result in a number of health complications like insomnia and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America.

Stress and anxiety plague millions of people. According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States.

While these statistics are harrowing, there is good news! We each have the ability to take control of our own well-being. A healthy diet, exercise and daily meditation can do wonders for calming our stressed minds and bodies.

In addition to those lifestyle changes, according to Galaxy Stress Research, (Mindlab International, Sussex University 2009), reading just six minutes per day can reduce stress by 60%.

Aside from the straightforward guidance from self-help books like best new release The Power of Letting Go: How to Drop Everything That’s Holding You Back by John Purkiss, reading any book has the potential to awaken inspiration, expand creativity and imagination and strengthen vocabulary which can help cultivate a healthy sense of self-confidence.

The single pointed focus and deep concentration that results from being totally absorbed in a book can even lead to the flow state where the mind's constant chatter begins to fade away and the reader experiences feelings of renewed energy, happiness and clarity.

Reading novels has its own set of benefits. When we read about a character’s struggles and triumphs, this reflects our own trials and accomplishments leading to feelings of connection, encouragement and hope.

We might think of reading as something we do alone, but there is a great opportunity to create community around books.

Even in a world where we are increasingly online, we can connect to others through book clubs, discussing and sharing insights we have gained through reading. We can inspire and support each other, helping to lessen feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Reading is joyful, relaxing and a wonderful alternative to scrolling through social media. Go ahead, lay on a hammock, crack open a good book and find comfort in knowing that you are improving your health!

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