What are you reading to reduce your stress?

Go for the alternate universe once in awhile

Yeah! Finally about to log in to my wordpress site. It was down since last weekend–hence the no post for two weeks. I’d love to say I’ve been writing like crazy in the interim, but that wouldn’t be quite true. (Too bad good intentions don’t count.) I have written some–but then life imploded and yeah, well, haven’t been writing so much. So here is what I intended to post last weekend. Still totally applies. In fact, I’ve been re-reading the first book in the series–but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the post from last week. Maybe then it will make sense.

Yesterday I read a book for most of the day. Not a horrible thing to do. Didn’t hurt anyone.

Life always coming right behind you

Wasn’t bad for my health, nothing like eating the 2 bags of on-sale-after-Easter candy that I have hidden away from husband and kids. Still, I had a lot to do. A LOT TO DO. (When you type it with all capitals it means it is really, truly true.) Laundry. A novel that was (and still is) crying piteously for attention. A week’s worth of cat hair and … other unidentified crud to be vacuumed up. Top that with meals, grocery shopping, bills, and visiting my Mum–and all of a sudden reading sounds like a really stupid idea. (I could type it in all capitals but then you might think I’m exaggerating. And quite frankly, I’m not sure my self-esteem could handle being thought STUPID.)

Except it isn’t stupid. Sometimes when life is going so fast it makes your head spin, that’s when you should take a time out. And that’s exactly what reading is–a vacation from your life. A chance to not be for a little while, and still come back.

Reading takes us places

I didn’t always used to be so understanding of my passion (my husband would say it should read habit or addiction instead). Just when I would be feeling completely overwhelmed, I’d find myself reading–and often reading something I’d already read! Nothing like going from being overwhelmed to being even further behind and mad at myself (There was usually guilt in there too–I’m a Christian after all. I think it’s a requirement.) But it still wouldn’t stop me from reading the next time. (OMG–it really is an addiction!) I often wondered what was wrong with me.

Stress Relief

I found the answer to that (well, to the reading part of what’s wrong with me–let’s not get crazy here) when I was searching for the benefits of reading to share with teachers and students for March is Reading Month. There are lots of benefits to reading (at least 26 according to Brad Isaac), including improving vocabulary, memory, concentration and focus. But one of the most interesting things I learned was that reading reduces stress levels up to 68%–according to research from the University of Sussex. So while It is true that I get further behind by reading, afterwards I am better able to deal with whatever stuff needs dealing with.

Of course, now that I know reading reduces stress, I try to utilize it in a more productive manner. To deal with the death of a close friend this past week, I read an hour or so every night before bed. It helped me sleep a little better. Definitely worth trying the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

Necromancing the Stone

So what was it I was reading? (and re-reading) A FABULOUS book called Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride. It is a sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. The characters are believable, the dialog very witty, it’s full of action (makes me laugh out loud–and cry, but that’s pretty normal for me), and most of all, it makes me see the world a little differently. Although it is fantasy, it explores the topic of friendship, family, and identity. Oh, and it stays with me. I re-read parts of it about 3 hours after I had finished it because I couldn’t get it out of my head. Still thinking about it. Sigh. I love good books. Here’s hoping my book(s) strikes people that way some day.

6 thoughts on “What are you reading to reduce your stress?

  1. Sarah, I REALLY liked your article. Now at least I don’t feel so guilty when I read more. Well sort of somewhat guilty. 68% reduction in stress! That’s impressive! That means if I read more that one book at a time my stress reduction might be exponential, right? Sadly, I doubt it however.

    My problem is, I am like a child. When anything glittery catches my eye or there are nice sounds and or something smells good etc, I want to touch it, examine it, play with it, smell it, eat it, hear it, READ IT. You get my drift? I don’t think I ever grew up (and never will). There is still a lot of that young boy bouncing around in my head yet. Peter Pan and me were kindred spirits.

    And so it is with mostly anything interesting especially now that I’m RETIRED, And BOOKS you say! Sarah, you asked dangerous question – for me that is.

    “WHAT ARE YOU READING TO REDUCE YOUR STRESS?” Well, I am reading the “Green Mile” by Stephen King, much different than the movie.
    I am also concurrently reading “Winter Moon” by Dean Koontz.
    “When Jesus Became God” by Richard E. Rubenstein.
    “The Little White Book of Light” by William Wright.
    “How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry” by Edward Hirsch.
    “The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, The Heels” by Greg Oliver & Steven Johnson. “Truth in Translation” by Jason David BeDuhn.
    The Complete Book of Juicing” by Michael T. Murray N.D.
    “The Fast Metabolism Diet” by Haylie Pomroy.
    And last but certainly not least, I try to read the “Bible” daily.
    Oh, I’m waiting to read Mark Wolfgangs 3rd novel in his “Yooper Mystery Books.”

    How’s that for an eclectic bunch of books! Whew! And I am not even counting the magazines that I try to read. Notice, I mentioned “TRY” to read :).

    Okay, so based on the “Stress” reduction factor, I can throw away my anxiety meds and BOOK onward to a Stress free life. Problem is, for the most part, I can’t decide daily which book to read; and that is stressing me out. However, its a good problem/stress to have. I could be having to get up early and go back to work again! NOT!

    Daniel

    • You are definitely an eclectic reader–which is a good thing in my opinion. I love to have a few books going at once. That way I can read what I feel like at the moment. That’s especially true with non-fiction. Much easier for me to pick up and put down.

      So Stephen King’s Green Mile is different than the movie. Hmmm, I might have to pick it up and read it. I’m not a huge horror fan, but I sure did like that movie. Is the book more…horrorish? Or just different.

  2. Hi Sarah, yes, an eclectic reader I am. During my working career, I had to read many technical, safety, building code regulations, and human behavior people management books. Not the most interesting books to read. Except, for vacations, I didn’t have the time to really read what I liked due to the 24/7 job as a Director of Plant Operations, Maintenance & Safety.

    Now that I am retired, I can read whatever I like! Or not to read – and just go to the beach in say in Grand Haven (or where-ever) to “De-stress” and people watch etc. I now read a variety of books like you both fiction & non-fiction to match the mood that I am in.

    Regarding the “Green Mile,” I love the movie and watch it and the “Shawshank Redemption” (also by Stephen King) almost every time they come on TV. I am half way through the “Green Mile” (on page 176 currently). So far I am finding it a lot different than the movie with much more character development. A lot more about that cute little smart mouse too! I am reading AND studying “Kings” writing style. So the read is taking me longer than normal and that’s okay, I am learning.

    I just love the way he writes at times (but not always). He says things in such a different way from what is normal that I find it very refreshing. What a mind that man has! He also effortlessly moves from the current tense to the past and the future and back again with such ease. At one point on page 175 at the end of the chapter, he so surprised me, by talking to me – the reader! This stunned me as I have never read anyone yet while in the telling of the story. I had to re-read the paragraph a couple of times. LOL, I don’t know if that breaks some kind of writers rules but I sure liked it.

    “King” also uses the narrator voice more than other books or authors. I like this personally. Sort of in the same style as Harper Lee in “To Kill a Mocking Bird” one of my all time favorite movies. I read the book in high school but would like to read the book again as its been so many years.

    So far, the story is not “horrorish” at all. But to be fair, I am only half way in the book. I suspect the style will stay the same. However, I know the execution in the electric chair will be hair raising (pun intended). My wife and I cried so hard when we first saw the movie when big “John Coffey” sadly an innocent man was executed. But then the same emotions came out even stronger when “Coffey” heals the warden’s wife from her brain cancer. And the way the villains are suddenly dispatched at the end of the movie/book! It is done so unexpectedly well, certainly brilliant and justified revenge supreme! Truly, bible-ish if you will.

    Sometimes “King” in his other books can go on a bit, I just surf over those parts when he does that. I have about 3 or 4 of his books. But in the “Green Mile” he stays on track with the story. Listen to me like I’m a critic! LOL. I think you would enjoy the book. A classic read with villains, slime-balls, everyday people, hero’s and of course good vs.evil. And the good prevails although admittedly sad. However, one can’t deny that the story sure sticks in ones mind.

    Based on how different this book is from the movie, I also plan to read the Shawshank Redemption” if it is in print. Some of his books, I won’t read as they go too far to the dark side. But this is just my reading taste and opinion. I like Sci-Fi and Fantasy but not the Horror genre.

    Love your blog, someday I may do the same. However, to paraphrase the words of one of my favorite poets “Robert Frost.”

    “I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.”
    Meaning, that I have much to learn yet about things, people and good writing.
    Daniel

    “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

    By Robert Frost 1874–1963 Robert Frost

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound’s the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    • Okay, now I’m curious enough I’ll have to read The Green Mile. Loved the movie Shawshank Redemption. King is a powerful writer–that’s why I don’t read some of his books. I don’t want that in my head. I couldn’t walk my dog after dark for two weeks after I read Salem’s Lot.

      I’m assuming you’ve read King’s book On Writing. If you haven’t, you really need to. Go out and buy it right now. It is fabulous. And thank you for reading and commenting. Sometimes it feels like I am throwing words into that black void of Internet.

  3. Sarah, I knew you would be curious enough, LOL to read the “Green Mile.” I am really enjoying reading it. Just read the part when Coffey first heals Tom Hanks horrible kidney infection (can’t remember Hanks character’s name right now). This scene, if totally different from the movie. I hope to read “Shawshank Redemption” if its in paperback. I go for the cheaper priced books unless the book is really special. Retirement is nice – but the pay is not!

    Yes, King goes way to much to the dark side for me. I carefully research which books he writes before reading them. I saw on TV that he has a miniseries coming out in June. I believe it’s called “Under the Dome.” I will have to take a look at the book’s overview. Have to be careful with King, as you mentioned, he can put some scary images in ones head. I still have images in my head from the movie “The Stand.” Yes, I have Kings book “On Writing.” I enjoyed and studied it too! Thanks for the heads up however. LOL – I must be taking on some of Kings characteristics as my last few “reply” comments were a bit wordy. Sorry about that.

    As to reading your blog, I thoroughly enjoy it! Please keep it up and your NOT throwing your time and good effort away. Your practicing your craft and honing it as you write more, right! Just look at all the discussion that came up on P.W. Facebook because of your article! That was enjoyable to read all the comments!

    I also read Sue Merrell’s blog when I have the time. Your blog seems to be easier to navigate around in and has nice graphics. Its also has a nicer layout to me, confidentially speaking. But what do I know, I am just a NEWBIE. I know that I just like it.

    Someday, I hope to have a blog as nice as yours and to write as elegantly as you do. I may be older and getting a late start in writing – but old dogs CAN learn new tricks – right!

    Daniel

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