Many people feel that there is nothing better than curling up on a comfortable chair with a good book and immersing yourself into another world for a short while. Reading is a form of escapism, often giving the reader a chance to take an emotional break from the trials and tribulations of their real lives and instead experience that of another.
However, as well as being an enjoyable pastime, reading has also been shown to be good for your health. According to new research, just six minutes of reading a day can be enough to reduce stress by 68%¹. It slows the heart rate, which in turn eases tension in the muscles and helps the reader to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Stress has been proven to have physical as well as psychological consequences. When we feel stressed, our body exhibits the same physiological responses as it would if we were in a ‘fight or flight’ situation. While this isn’t a problem if it only happens occasionally, repeated stress responses can put your health at risk.
Some of the symptoms associated with stress include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fertility problems
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Low sex drive
- Missed periods
- Rapid breathing
- Risk of heart attack
- Stomach ache
- Tense muscles
- Weakened immune system
Chronic stress has also been known to be a major contributor in behavioral responses such as overeating, not eating enough, drug and alcohol abuse, all of which can have devastating consequences on our health and wellbeing.
Stress is an unfortunate and unavoidable part of a day to day life. However, it is possible to learn to manage stress more effectively, so that it has less of an impact on our health.
It may surprise you to know that pet ownership has been shown to drastically reduce stress levels in humans. Research has shown that interactions with animals can lower a person’s blood pressure, slow their heart rate and help their muscles to relax. Dogs are a particularly beneficial animal for stress and anxiety reduction, largely because they are more interactive than a lot of other household pets and you can train them, play games with them and they will actively seek out your company.
So, if both reading and spending time with your canine companion can help to combat the symptoms of stress and anxiety, it makes perfect sense to combine the two! Not only will it be beneficial to your health, but it is also a fun, but relaxing activity that can help strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.
However, the benefits of reading to dogs don’t stop there. Many studies have shown that reading to dogs is also a great way to improve self-confidence and public speaking skills. This is because it provides an opportunity to speak out loud, but without the judgement of human company.
Recognizing the benefits that they can bring, there are also many in-school programs that allow children to read with a dog. Most children have a natural affinity that allows them to bond with a canine friend, children are less self-conscious as dogs aren’t judgemental, and it can decrease the stress that a child would normally feel when reading aloud in the classroom environment. Contact Country Veterinary Clinic for more information.
Source: Reading Can Help Reduce Stress