I couldn’t help noticing that it took only six minutes.
Just enough time for the second hand to make six laps around a clock-face. Or if you see the glass half-empty — 360 one-second ticks on the clock. Anyway, six minutes.
Research studies at Mindlab International have shown that reading reduces stress levels by 68 percent. Subjects only needed to read for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease the tension in muscles. Listening to music reduced the levels by 61 percent, having a cup of tea or coffee lowered them by 54 percent and taking a walk by 42 percent.
But Mindlab found that reading works best to ease tension and slow the heart rate.
Story continues below gallery
Of course, upon further investigative reporting, I found that this 2009 study was commissioned by the maker of Galaxy chocolate as part of a campaign to give away
1 million books. For full disclosure I admit that my first journalistic ethics forethought, while reading this revealing research happened while I sipped a mug of hot tea and nibbled on a Dove chocolate bar, was: “Well played, Galaxy chocolate people, well played.”
A fresh cup of tea leaves was steeping when I stumbled upon current research from Stavanger University in Norway. Presented at a conference in Italy, researchers found that people tend to absorb less information when reading on a Kindle versus printed paper. Phys.org reported: “After being asked to read a short story written by Elizabeth George, people using a Kindle performed significantly worse on a test that measured plot reconstruction than did those that read the same story from a printed paperback book.”
Let me just go on record here to suggest:
•I personally have done no research but would pick paper over digital reading any day.
•If I were in this Stavanger University case study, I might want to read something other than a mystery novel that is set in Great Britain. (Yes, I know that American novelist Elizabeth George is a prolific, successful writer, but I was just noting that I may not remember the plot if I was being tested, because I’m not a mystery-novel-kind-of-gal — not since my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys days.
To take my own “scientific” survey, I walked around the house to see what books were reducing the stress levels by 68 percent.
Doc Steve (aka the husband) is simultaneously reading: Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” Edwin H. Friedman’s “A Failure of Nerve,” Robert Schleip’s “Fascia: The Tensional
Network of the Human Body” and Frederick Courteney Selous’ “A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa.”
Chloe Tillman was enjoying her Christmas presents: Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” and “Checklist Manifesto.” Before Christmas, Chloe could be found reading C.S. Lewis’ high-fantasy children’s novel “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” in addition to Dr. Joseph B. Strauss’ “Chiropractic Philosophy.” I think those books were her “fun reading” since she just finished Dr. Keith Moore’s great read “Clinically Oriented Anatomy” last semester.
Phoebe was rereading Simon Kuper’s “Soccer Against the Enemy” and the book she bought her dad for Christmas: “The Total Outdoorsman Manual: 347 Skills You Need,” by T. Edward Nickens and the editors of Field & Stream.
Aly was checking out her new Christmas present: “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim.
And I was rereading William Zinsser’s classic “On Writing Well,” Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven” and Emily Toth’s book “Kate Chopin: A Life of the Author of the Awakening.”
My resolution for 2015 is to keep up the six-minute, 68 percent stress-reduction reads.
Happy stress-free reading!