A study at the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes did a better job of reducing stress than going for a walk or taking a coffee break, and I’m not surprised. Reading is one of my favorite ways to de-stress, and it’s not just escape from my overloaded To Do list that’s appealing.
Reading adds a pleasurable experience to my day. I enjoy the play of words, their rhythm and beauty. I love going on a journey with wonderfully flawed characters who struggle and grow and teach me something about myself. I anticipate their moment of triumph and revel in their victory with them.
In the same way a runner hits an endorphin “high,” I experience the reader’s high—that moment when everything it means to be human is distilled into a single page or paragraph, a single sentence. Life itself is captured with just a few eloquent words, and those words push me beyond the ordinary world. I’m reminded that there’s more to life than my To Do list. Reading makes me stop, take a deep breath, and look at both the world and myself with fresh eyes. It’s addictive. Fortunately, it’s also legal and free of side effects.
Do you read to de-stress? Have you ever experienced the reader’s high?
©2014 Kim Vandel