Research shows reading helps reduce stress. What books do you enjoy for soul rest?
Writers step through all kinds of funny rituals as they approach their blank page of the day. Steven Pressfield who wrote the War of Art says he drapes his lucky hooded sweatshirt over a chair.
As a Christian writer, I start with prayer. From there, I reach into a grab bag of tricks to coax my mind out to play. I allow it to think we’re not doing anything at the beginning. I nonchalantly brew up a pot of coffee and take my first sips while reading for a few minutes. In this relaxed state, I walk my fingers to the keyboard. Without much fanfare, we start the work of creativity.
I choose reading as a form of relaxation intuitively. It’s just what I’ve always done. No matter how out of place I’ve found myself, I’ve always felt at home with a book. Whether waiting for the bus to turn the corner, spending a quiet evening in my dorm room, or relaxing at the end of a busy work day, reading has brought me a measure of soul rest from stress.
The habit of reading to unwind apparently isn’t just good for my soul.
There are health benefits to reading.
According to a research conducted at the University of Sussex, reported by The Telegraph:
“Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds.”
“Reading works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea.
Reading works best reducing stress levels by 68 per cent….
Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles.”
No wonder we love our books so much. We lug them with us on vacation and keep them near us, by our bed. They give us joy and comfort.
Now you know why I have to be careful what I read before bedtime. Turning a few pages can help me fall sleep. But sometimes, I’ll find myself mysteriously tapping away in the dark, words spilling onto the computer screen.
What books do you enjoy reading for soul rest?
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I love to read! I have to be careful otherwise instead of bringing me rest I stay up all night to finish the latest book that has caught my attention. I so many types. I read about children and education, self-care books, books about God (including Bible), mysteries, science fiction, adventure, romance…. Currently I am working on 3 different ones for different things.
It’s true. Gotta watch out – some books are real page turners! 😉
Thanks for yr sharing which affirm what i am suffering now. I wa very stress up as my relationship with my Hubby is broken. Reading does help me to reduce the amount of stress level. I went to the book store & happened to read some self help improvement book.
Chris, I’m sorry this is such a stressful time. I hope you can get some shots of encouragement browsing here! Blessings!
Nothing does me better than a good fiction, preferably with a bit of fantasy/sci-fi. But I can also get into really well-written non-fiction. Two recent examples: “The Passage,” by Justin Cronin and “Just Like Us,” by Helen Thorpe.
Thanks for sharing these picks. I’m going to check them out, Megan!
It doesn’t seem like it would make any sense, as far as being ‘restful’, but I just love a good Ted Dekker novel. They are intense, and give me an adrenaline rush, but they are the easiest for me to get completely sucked into and out of my reality (because it’s so far removed from reality). Reading a really good book, that lets me disconnect, feels almost like a mini-vacation, because I tend to want to ignore everything else until I’m done. I guess in that way, in can be a bad thing, but I do feel really refreshed, like I’ve been away, and ready to return when I finish! (It’s also why I read in ‘spurts’…I don’t generally have a really GOOD book going at all times, because then I’d never get anything accomplished!)
Jessi, this makes total sense. 🙂 Escaping into something completely outside of everyday grind. You must enjoy a vivid imagination!
Right now I am reading 3 different titles by Sean McDowell and Josh McDowell. I am also reading through the Bible in a year. I actually love reading blogs like this for leisure! I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to link your post for my readers at Life Beyond PBJ. Thanks!
I don’t mind at all, Tara! Thanks for the honor! 🙂
Just the act of picking up a book, lying on the sofa and reading relaxes me. I don’t choose any book in particular, just the process of moving my eyes and my brain through the words on the pages does the trick.
Hi Bev. Feels soothing just reading your comment! 🙂
This is very true. When I have a chaotic day and stare at my never ending list of things to do…I find comfort that at the end of the day I can relax with a book or two (at times I am reading more than one) and feel a sense of “ahhhh. ” Instead of my mind going over what’s to come and what I need to finish, reading places me in another world, if I’m reading fiction, or at least not dwelling on the next day. I also can reflect on Jesus after I’ve unwound and thank Him for all that He has done.
Bonnie, I cannot tell you how many times your articles have addressed exactly what I needed. 🙂
That is so awesome, Tracy! Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂
I’ve been enjoying Joel Osteen, Max Lucado, and Joyce Meyer lately. I love reading out loud because then the words seem to reverberate even more for me. Their encouragement and instruction is calming and keeps me looking to Jesus.
Love this, Victoria — Jesus has the most calming effect.
Me too! When I read these kinds of books or my bible, I read aloud. High five!
Thanks for sharing this! I will read more than I do, now that I know it reduces stress. God bless you!
Thanks for stopping by, Claudia! Blessings!
I have that Steven Pressfield book. It’s wonderful!
Reading is amazing. It is relaxing. I’m extra careful in choosing books I purchase. So whatever I”m reading at the given moment is most relaxing. No study books for relaxing though.
Right now I’m reading a book called Oogy. It’s an amazing story of how a few weeks old puppy was rescued. It’s detailed in how he was found, the particular hospital he was brought to, the specific doctor assistant who made sure he was attended to, the doctor who said yes, and the family who adopted him.
Aaah. God is definitely in the details. Gives me a good cry, giggle, smile, and fills me.
You’re amazing Bonnie. Felt good to share that.
Oh, yeah. Pressfield’s book slays dragons. You’re a Oogy type girl, huh? Not surprised – you’re a tender heart, Jeri.
Reading is relaxing for me. I keep a book in the car in case I am in line or otherwise waiting for someone or something. Current reading for soul rest include: Psalms, books of photographs, biographies, children’s books, and more!
Books everywhere! 🙂
I love to read the Psalms in the Bible. When I read about people like David, I’m reminded that he went through some very rough seasons too. And yet through it all, he was a man after God’s own heart. I pray that would be me. I also love to read devotionals and books on Christian growth and living.
I also love historical fiction novels. When my husband and I went to Hawaii, I had to read James Michener’s famous book before we got there.
However, I also enjoy some lighter reading such as Jan Karon’s Mitford Series. I can imagine living in a small town which is something so different from this city girl.
I love to read! I just wish I had more time to do so. I used to say that my best vacation would be sitting near the ocean with a good book to read and …not feeling guilty. 🙂
Loved your post Bonnie. You are a wonderful engaging writer.
Blessings and love to you,
Sounds like the ultimate vacation, Debbie!
This was a great one to write on . . . cuz I truly have a love for books! 🙂 I am so thankful for the way God has used godly authors in my life. Thanks for sharing this today!
Love the name of your blog, Loni! 🙂
How cool. I have never heard this before. Another great reason God wants us to spend time with Him in His Word. He’s so smart. 🙂
Isn’t that the truth. He is super smart!!!! 😀 Praise God.
I have two books just bought them. I am so excited as if I got a new gadget (I love gadgets, laptops, ipads, phones, etc), however, this is much cheaper. hahahahh!
Love that, Laura. Every book is a glimpse into the mind of God through our stories.
Book was my very first word according to my mother. I’m not sure I quite believe her…but that’s family legend anyway. I love to read. The sensation of words leading me into a story is the experience that brings me to libraries and bookstores again and again. Sometimes, I feel both are sanctuaries for me. It’s all the treasures waiting to be discovered that excites and holds me. What do I read–lots of books and meditations. Right now I have two books or maybe three going–HOMER’S ODYSSEY and LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN. The latter will be the discussion book on Monday at one of the branches of my county’s library. Of course, there are the meditation materials from Al-Anon and Henri Nouwen’s WITH OPEN HANDS. I’m on my second time through Nouwen’s little book on prayer. I love the voices of many authors. As I quietly let the words penetrate my mind, new pathways of understanding are forged. I love that process. It fills me with a dimension that wasn’t there before the words opened another doorway into my soul and mind. God speaks in so many ways, but He has found me amidst a story so many times that I’m sure He brought me there. Thanks for asking this question. It’s a good one to ask. God bless you. 😀
When I need to reduce stress, I usually pick up a book written for the pretten/teenage crowd. Newberry Medal winners and the like. They are easy to read, and while they can touch on intense themes, they are not intense themselves since they are geared towards children. That helps my brain to relax and rejuvenate.
I do read a variety of other books – but for the enjoyment of reading and learning and growing (depending on the book, of course), not for relaxation.
One great example of that is 1000 Gifts. I’m stuck half way through because I don’t have the emotional energy to finish it. I’ve loved every word I’ve read, but it’s sapped me emotionally and I need to recover that energy before finishing.
[…] the question is, “What books do you enjoy reading for soul rest?” Of course, the Bible is number one. I’m continually amazed that even though, […]
I like Christian living, women issues from Elizabeth George, Lysa TerKeurst, Holly Gerth, Joyce Meyer, Julie Clinton, Pam farrel, and all the other lovely ladies that write great books..
Eden! Thank you for writing to let me know how this encouraged you. It made my heart happy. Take care, friend! And may God bring you sleep as you relax in the love of reading.