The Importance of Managing Stress and Anxiety
High levels of stress can be detrimental to our well-being, and similarly anxiety can lead to a negative spiral in behavior and mental health. High levels of both can lead to a decrease motivation and an increase in depression. With this in mind, managing anxiety and stress becomes more important than ever!
Why Reading Can Be a Balm for the Soul
Many have found solace in the pages of a good book. But why does reading soothe us so?
The Science Behind Reading and Relaxation
Reading stimulates the left temporal lobe, which is linked to emotional regulation. This can explain why many people find reading to be an anxiety reliever. The process of reading involves various parts of the brain, making it an engaging activity that can serve as a distraction from worries and provide a sense of accomplishment.
Another one of the scientific benefits of reading is its ability to reduce stress significantly. Research from the University of Sussex found that just reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%. This is more effective than other stress-reducing activities like going for a walk or listening to music. Thus, managing stress is important for our overall mental health and cognitive functioning, and reading can be a tool to achieve that.
The Role of Books in Self-Care
Reading has many roles in taking care of ourselves. Here are a few:
Reading allows for distraction from overpowering thoughts and pressures. It offers relief and comfort from our intrusive thoughts.
Reading about fictional characters facing problems can offer also offer a sense of relief. The reader might think, "At least I don't have that problem." Or the reader might be able to connect with the character and relate to their problems.
Finishing a book provides a sense of accomplishment. This achievement can be a counter to feelings of inadequacy or the stress of unfinished tasks in real life.
Reading fiction improves our ability to understand others' mental states, known as the theory of mind. This ability can help individuals navigate social scenarios more effectively, reducing anxiety and misunderstandings.
5 New Stress And Anxiety Books To Read This Fall
With the seasons changing, here's a roundup of the latest stress-relief books that promise to add tranquility to your fall reading list.
Book 1: “The Four Agreements”
In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.
“I am reading this book, and even though it is a small book, when I finish page 129, I start over again on page 1. I have been reading it for quite a while now, and I suspect I will continue reading it for as long as I can read. A few pages at a time is more than enough to give me something to kick around in my head for a few days or a week…It is 2022, nineteen years after I wrote this first review, and the book is still on my nightstand by my bed. Currently, I do not read from it every day (I think I am starting to get it), but whenever I do, it is a good read.”
“I'd like to propose this book as required reading for the course, Life...What I love about this book: it's a short, captivating read. I love the efficiency of receiving so much thought-provocation in so little time; the agreements are applicable to everyone, everywhere, regardless of religion, gender, age, etc; stories, anecdotes and examples from various beliefs are intertwined throughout, spotlighting their common bottom lines: love, life and peace.”
“This little book is going to tear your heart open, put a light of love in it. This light will grow and become a fire, then you start spreading the love of light to your family, your community, your nation, to the world and to the universe.”
Book 2: “Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before”
Drawing on years of experience as a clinical psychologist, online sensation Dr Julie Smith provides the skills you need to navigate common life challenges and take charge of your emotional and mental health in her debut book.
“I think this book is very helpful for someone who has no knowledge or background on psychology. The way the information is presented is structured and easy to understand for the general population. And I think for someone who needs a bit of clarity about anxiety, meaning and life in general this book can be valuable. I liked the way it dived in situations where not being stressed is not an option and how to tackle this areas of life.”
“This was a very useful and practical guide for mental health issues. I loved her short, to the point chapters with tools that were also summarized at the end. The tools fitted nicely to the themes, and I’m sure everyone will find tips that they can use to improve their well-being. The author also explains concepts in a way that is easy to grasp, and I kept thinking that I must use these explanations myself when talking with clients. She was also empathic and it shows how much she cares for others, genuinely wanting to help. The use of small self-revelation were also fitting, making the reader relate and believe in the tools presented. I warmly recommend this book for everyone who wants to improve their mental health, and live more fulfilling lives”
“Amazing. Just fantastic and life changing. After reading this you will shake your head and say “why has no one ever told me this?” Seriously. “
Book 3: "Unwinding Anxiety”
New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind - A step-by-step plan clinically proven to break the cycle of worry and fear that drives anxiety and addictive habits
“This book dwells in science and relies on facts about how our minds are wired and how it works. It bought clarity to the wonderments I had which were comforting and reassuring. Not only does this book answer our questions but also gives a detailed guide to maneuver or control our mind to reshape or relearn our habitual behaviors concerning anxiety and depression. I hope it gets attention and serves its purpose in helping people who are suffering from anxiety and depression.”
“I found many parts of this book insightful and helpful (and dare I even say enjoyable, thanks to Brewer’s self deprecating humor?).”
“This book is a good supplement to guided mindfulness apps.”
Book 4: “The Upside of Stress”
“Stress isn't bad for you. It's good for you. But only if you get your head out of your keister. Get this book to learn how to do that.”
“The first 2/3 was super insightful and will change the way I cope with situations. I will definitely listen to this again.”
“This book is a helpful because it shows research on how perception of stress changes the outputs of stress. Our bodies are programmed to respond in certain ways when we’re in stressful situations and those responses may seem bad, but they’re actually helpful techniques. The body is designed so perfectly turns out.”
Book 5: “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook”
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook has already helped over one million readers make a full and lasting recovery from generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, specific phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other anxiety-related issues. Packed with the most effective skills for assessing and treating anxiety, this workbook can be used alone or as a supplement to therapy to help you develop a full arsenal of skills for quieting worried thoughts and putting yourself back in control.
“Um, I want to give this book to everyone I know as a Christmas gift. I picked this book up on a lark because I was experiencing some anxiety that seemed particularly acute at the time. Boy, was it money well-spent.”
“This is an amazing book recommended to me by my nurse practitioner. What I loved about this book was that it offered holistic ideas to manage and even overcome anxiety.”
“I found this book on a list of 15 best books to overcome anxiety while google-ing books on this topic, and I was so excited to read it.”
Incorporating Reading into Your Daily Routine
Reading should be a joy, not a chore.
Begin by reading something brief, and not too long. Also something that’s easy to digest. This can trick the brain into wanting to read more later in the day.
Setting Up a Relaxing Reading Nook
Create a dedicated space for reading to enhance the experience.
Making Time for Books Amidst Busy Schedules
Designate specific times for reading, such as before bed. Even if it's just a few pages, having a routine can solidify the habit. It’s all about consistency. Try using a planner to jot down schedules and identify free slots.
Make an archive
Using tools like the Kindle app and Readwise, find books and formats that you genuinely enjoy. It's easier to make time for things one is passionate about! Delve into different genres, especially fiction, to improve emotional intelligence and empathy. Read educational or self-improvement books to enrich your understanding of yourself and other various topics.
Join a live chat related to books. Participating in book clubs or online discussions can be a way to incorporate reading into one's routine.
Books have been humanity's trusted companions, offering solace in times of distress. As the leaves turn golden this fall, pick up one of these recommended reads and discover peace nestled within their pages.
Q: How often should one read for effective stress relief?
A: Regular reading, even if for a short time daily, can provide consistent benefits.
Q: Are e-books as effective as physical books?
A: While the content matters more, many find the tactile experience of physical books more soothing.
Q: Can reading replace therapy?
A: While reading is therapeutic, it should not replace professional help when needed.