Relaxing with a book for a few minutes during a busy day can be an effective and simple method of stress relief. Fiction can also provide a good way to break down the accumulated stress of a long day and ease someone into slumber. In fact, since childhood many people have used the diversion of fiction as stress relief.
Books quickly transport a reader away from the cares that may be annoying him/her to a less taxing environment. How does fiction relieve stress? Stress and anxiety are the result of pent up chemicals in the blood stream. When people are faced with aggravating circumstances their bodies have what is referred to as a fight or flight response. Fight or flight has its origins in an earlier primitive lifestyle where there was an actual ability to either engage in combat or flee in the face of adverse circumstances. The physical activity of doing battle or retreating until another day dissipated the accumulated chemicals. These days there is no release of these stress chemicals. Since the compounds continue to accrue in the blood stream they show themselves as stress. Unrelieved stress can lead to a debilitating anxiety attack.
When anxiety mounts pulling out a good book can provide stress relief without resorting to medicine and without even having to leave the home or office environment. Reading fiction fights stress by breaking the chemical chain of events. Many times people feel powerless in the face of rising anxiety. As a result the physical symptoms of stress rapidly accelerate in a self perpetuating circle. In only a few moments some victims of stress induced anxiety can be overcome by heart palpitations, heavy perspiration and physical weakness.
Just the act of reaching for a book can break the back of an anxiety attack. Sitting down for even five or ten minutes with a good work of fiction can bring almost instantaneous stress relief. Concentrating on a book and getting lost in a good story distracts the body from the origins of the stress. As a result the body calms down and stops the production of stress related chemicals. The compounds slowly leave the blood stream. Voila, stress relief.
So, the next time you feel yourself headed toward an episode of anxiety triggered by stress pull some fiction off the book shelf and settle down for a short read. Better yet waylay stress before it has a chance to mount. Take a break every day for a little fiction stress relief.
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