We are living in strange times. With the current state of affairs, some of us have had our workload increase drastically. Others aren’t able to work any longer. Some of us are enjoying extra time with family, and others are ready to pull their hair out. We are all seeking ways to stay healthy–physically, mentally, and emotionally.
But that’s tough given our current circumstances. As we seek to acclimate to uncertain times, most of will experience an increase in stress in some form or other. However, we’ve found a relatively simple and scientifically proven practice that can reduce stress: reading. So let’s the explore some of the reasons this low-tech pastime might be the answer.
Research from the University of Sussex has proven that people who read just 6 minutes a day tend to be 68% less stressed. Yes, you read that right, 68% less stressed. Reading tends to help us escape the world, shut out distractions, and focus intently on something other than everything going on around us. The study even found that reading works better than listening to music. And you only need 6 minutes a day of uninterrupted reading time to reap these incredible benefits.
When you read, you aren’t just reducing your stress, you are also thinking and feeling and learning. You are increasing your vocabulary. This gives you a greater variety of words to choose from when you are writing and delivering your presentations. Business Insider addresses how important a good vocabulary is saying, “Your goal here isn’t to inject big words into your sentences, but rather to arrange your sentences to ensure your meaning comes across precisely. In the process, you’ll come across as a better communicator, which will make you seem more intelligent and thoughtful, and therefore more trustworthy.”
In addition, when you are a well-read person, you have more examples and stories to draw from. Much of communication is connecting ideas. When you read, you increase the wealth of knowledge you can pull from when trying to communicate and connect with your audience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been preparing a speech, or lecture, or blog when I think, “I’ve read something that fits perfectly here!” The more we read, the more we boost our content.
Reading, particularly fiction, also allows you to take the perspectives of other people. As a speaker, you need to have the ability to view things from others’ perspectives. That way, you can relate with your diverse audience members. Fiction allows you to see from inside someone else’s life. The New York Times writer Annie Murphy Paul explores the benefits of reading from a neuroscientific perspective in her article, “Your Brain on Fiction.” She says, “Narratives offer a unique opportunity to . . . identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and track their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbors and lovers . . . It is an exercise that hones our real-life social skills.” She cites multiple studies which have found that individuals who frequently read fiction “seem to be better able to understand other people.”
Think you can manage a 6-minute daily habit that will reduce your anxiety levels by nearly 70% while also making you a better speaker and all-around human being? Sounds worth it to me.
While your local library might be closed, you can still order books online. Check out Amazon’s Best Sellers List for 2019 here. Or check out The New York Times best sellers here. And if you prefer to buy used books and save a little money, we love Thriftbooks for great deals! Happy reading!
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