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Books: A balm to aching souls

"Through reading, one can enjoy vicarious pleasures. There are many places where we can hardly go, but just by opening a book, we can visit those wondrous places with our mind's eye"

Human life in every phase is replete with irritants and stressors over which we have no control. What we can do is lessen the impact of anxiety and frustration on our body and mind by cultivating the “long-forgotten” habit of reading books. Researchers believe that even short uninterrupted sessions of reading have long-lasting effects on the body, mind, and soul, just like yoga and humour. Let’s learn how 15-minute reading of a book of your choice can calm anxiety in a way no anti-depressant would do. If you are curious to know in which ways the wondrous world of books helps reduce stress without having the risk of the side effects of medicine, you are at the right place!

I remember as a child (as kids tend to be emotional and vulnerable), my cherished escape was the magical world of books – something which is quite relatable for many. I always sought refuge in the hospitable territory of books. Reading books has been a source of reducing stress for me for as long as I remember, though I did not realize it at that time how those venturous escapades were pivotal in shaping my life and overall personality. Ever since, the impressions I have been receiving through my reading habit help me make life better.

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Bibliotherapists say personality development starts at an early age, and the habit of reading aids this process by strengthening and relaxing one’s nerves. Reading books of one’s choice helps in the improvement of both physical and mental health. The habit of reading regularly, though at intervals, can improve memory and may fight against developing dementia. It stimulates the thought process, leads to the awakening of imaginative powers, calms both body and mind, and strengthens cognitive development. Scientific studies show that reading for only 15 minutes triggers hormones that reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. Stress, if left unchecked, can result in physical and mental illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, acute anxiety and depression. Reading for a minimum 15 minutes a day relaxes muscles, slows down heart rate and helps in better focus besides improving vocabulary and creativity. Through reading, one can enjoy vicarious pleasures. There are many places where we can hardly go, but just by opening a book, we can visit those wondrous places with our mind’s eye. It can be in itself a positive escapism from the daily stressors of our life. Reading fiction transports you to a whole new world and puts you in a trance-like state.

Research has proved that reading at your own pace has a great impact on polishing human attributes like empathy, sensitivity, and prudence. Reading calms the reader to such an extent that one can experience sound-mindedness and equilibrium in chaotic situations. Whenever things seem to go out of hand, I resort to reading to relax. Bibliotherapy sessions can help people deal with the emotional challenges of daily life. The subject has become a credible science and acts as a palliative for many aching souls. Certified therapists prescribe books that ease the souls of stressed-out people. Certain books are suited for certain patients struggling with anxiety and depression. ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ is a book often recommended by therapists for those who realize their lives are entangled by stressors and irritants and cannot find a way to cope with them. The book narrates the story of a writer who pens something that does not go down well with the high and mighty. They penalise him by curtailing his liberty. He turns adversity into opportunity and leaves a lasting impression on the audience.

These therapists heal people with the help of books belonging to various genres. They recommend the reading of novels that eliminate stress and strengthen brain functions. The reading of these specific books boosts strange powers and insights, which unite the body and mind to win the battle against irritants. Book reading works in a thousand ways to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety and depression. If you let stress go unchecked, it can prove detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Are you still preoccupied and overwhelmed by the stressors? Just grab a book of your choice, dive into the world of words, and let the magic begin.

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