I think reading to reduce stress is a great idea. Shortly after my husband died, I met frequently with a bereavement counselor that the hospice service provided to me. She was helpful to me and made a difficult time a bit better. Being a person who loves to research things, I asked her if there were any books she thought I should read. She thought about it and suggested The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s book about the death of her husband.
I had already read that and so the counselor thought about it and said, “well, just read a mystery book.” That made me laugh and I said I can do that.
We’re always talking about ways to improve our health and our fitness. Of course, that’s important. In our podcast episode 25, Setting Goals for the New Year, Chris said she wants to work on the mental aspect of health. We talked about focus and meditation and ways to quiet the mind.
Thinking about ways to improve our mental health made me remember that conversation with the bereavement counsellor. Reading a mystery or any other book for entertainment can be a great way to reduce stress, relieve anger or boredom, and improve your mood.
I’ve always been a big mystery reader so I loved that counselor’s advice. As I’ve gotten older, though, I must watch that I don’t choose a book that’s too disturbing. I really don’t want to get stressed out over gory details.
Finding a Good Book
If you’re not a big reader, you might wonder how to find a good stress-relieving book. I have some ideas on that.
- Look at what book clubs are reading. My local bookstore has an area where all the book clubs have their books shelved for their members. I like to go browse that area to see what’s hot on the book club circuit.
- Check out book reviews and also look at Amazon’s “If you liked this, you’ll probably like that” feature. I like to see what my friends on Goodreads are reading.
- Ask your friends. Ask here on the Becoming Elli page or join our Facebook group and ask there. People love to share their ideas on books. If you visit your local library, check out what’s on the “hot sellers” area or ask the librarian for advice.
Reread a Favorite
- Go and find the books you enjoyed as a child or teen. Rereading them can be a real treat. Of course, they can also make you wonder what you were thinking at that age. Over the past few years, I’ve reread the Chronicles of Narnia. I loved those books when I was probably about 11. They hold up though the religious themes were stronger than I remembered. I also reread Little Women. That was enjoyable but a very different read than when I was a girl.
- Read a classic you’ve always regretted missing or reread one that you love. Every 5 to 7 years, I decide to read Jane Eyre again. I also love to reread Jane Austen. A year or two ago, I picked up Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities and was pleased that I enjoyed it.
- Choose a favorite author. Perhaps you loved a book by a particular author. If so, go see what else he or she wrote.
Borrow from Movies or Different Genres
- Read the book of a movie that’s coming out that you know you want to see. Or, if you’ve already seen a movie that you enjoyed, pick up the book that it’s based on.
- Check out some of the current young adult series. They’re often enjoyable and usually pretty straight-forward. There was that whole period of dystopia series (The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.) but I think you can find other genres now in the young adult area. I find these books to be great selections for audio books.
- If you normally read romances, maybe try a mystery. If you normally read mysteries, maybe try some science fiction.
Reading to Reduce Stress
These are some of the ideas of where to find a book for reading to reduce stress. Remember, there are times to read books that might disturb you or upset you but we’re talking about reading to reduce stress. Therefore, try to select books that you will enjoy. If you’re having to force yourself to read it, put the book aside and try a different one.