According to an article in The Telegraph (London?) reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce your stress level by two thirds.
And it works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea, research found.
Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.
The research was carried out on a group of volunteers by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.
Jeez. If this is true, I must be I comatose, especially the last couple of days.
I know there are people who do not read. I gave birth to some of them. I am married to one of them (it may take him a year to read a book). I was fathered by a man who once read "Away All Boats" and decided he didn't need to read another book in his life.
But I don't understand these people. I know they are good, intelligent people who probably accomplish a lot more than I do because they don't waste their time sitting in a chair reading, but I am as compulsive about reading as I am about watching television. I can't imagine my life without a book by my side at all times. I have been a compulsive reader ever since I learned to read.
I remember the first time I babysat at a house with no books. There were book cases filled with knick knacks but there were no books. I had forgotten to bring something to read and just assumed I'd pick up a book while there. I was convinced they must be hiding them. Whoever heard of a house without books? But no, there was not a single book to be had in the house. It was a whole new world for me. A bookless house.
Because of books, I rarely get upset if I have to wait in a long line somewhere. I always have a book (or my kindle) in my purse and I take that line as a time to read. I get a lot of reading done at intermission of plays I am reviewing. It doesn't bother me if Walt decides to stop and pick up something at the store or visit the ATM while I sit in the car, because it gives me a chance to read another page or two in my book. I'm kind of upset when I go to the dentist or doctor, or stop by Blood Source to donate blood and I do not have to wait because it deprives me of a time to read a few pages of my book.
I'm so compulsive about reading that I keep an "emergency book" in the car and it's not even the book I'm currently into, but just a thing with printed pages that I can pick up if I have somehow left my current book at home and find myself with a few minutes with nothing to do. It will probably take me a year or more to finish that book, while I will finish many others that don't permanently live in the car. If I don't have my current book with me and for some reason don't have an emergency book, I have been known to read the car's manual just to give me something to read.
With the advent of modern technology, I have choices of how I want to read a book. I can read it as a hold-in-your-hand book, or a Kindle book, or I can read on my iPad or I can listen on my iPod. I know I should read real books, but the advantage of an e-book, when you get to a certain age, is that you can make the print bigger. I sometimes look at the books at Logos that I might want to read and the print is so tiny that I know I would never be able to read it.
The latest Diana Gabaldon book, "Written in My Heart's Own Blood," has me making best use of technology. When I went to visit Bill the other day, I knew I would have two blissful hours in the car when I could listen to the book, because I had it as an audio book, but also as an e-book. Too impatient to know the whole story, I had been reading on my Kindle where I can read faster, but I love listening to Davina Porter read the book too. In fact, when I finish reading the book, I will probably go back and listen to the audio book, where I will pick up more details because I won't be skipping over battle scenes to get to the personal scenes more quickly.
I sat here with my iPad and my iPod and I fast forwarded through the iPod trying to find the spot where I had been reading on my iPad. The iPad has a feature where you can search for words or phrases, so I would listen on the iPod for a phrase and then search for it on the iPad so I could see how much farther I had to advance the audio book to catch up with the iPad (god, my mother would go nuts if I tried to explain this to her!). But I did manage to sync the two machines up and then when I got home, found where I was on the iPod audio book on the iPad e-book so I could start reading again. Only since I prefer to read on the Kindle rather than on the iPad, I then synced the two machines together so I could catch up on the Kindle.
For the past two days I have done little but sit in the recliner reading the Gabaldon book (which is >1000 pages, so it can't be dashed off in a day). Late yesterday afternoon, the Kindle let me know that the battery was low, so I leaped up, plugged it in to recharge and continued reading on the iPad so I would be able to follow the story during the time when the Kindle was out of commission.
Yes, it's a sickness of sorts, but a benign one. And heck, if reading only 6 minutes can reduce my stress level by a third, what must reading all day long for days on end do for me?