Summer Beach Reads: More Than Just A Guilty Pleasure

By: ALEX ROGERS

Edited by: KELSEY CRUZ

Gone are the days of summer vacation – full of endless tanning sessions, pool parties, and beach trips. Now it’s summer classes and internships and jobs, oh my! School and work create high stress situations, and summer no longer provides a reprieve as it did in high school.

In a recent survey I conducted of 100 randomly selected girls from the ages 18-28, 92 percent claim that stress levels are consistent all year round (with minor fluctuations). Stressors like work, school, vacations, relationships, and body image rattle our nerves and damage our cuticles from excessive nail biting. But since stress is so common, how can you cope with it? When a paper seems impossible or a nagging boss won’t get off your back, how can you de-stress when your best friend is tired of hearing you vent? You can read.

According to The Mindlab International at the University of Sussex, after just six minutes of reading, stress levels decline by a whopping 68 percent. In the study, Dr. David Lewis, the cognitive neuropsychologist who managed the experiment, analyzed the heart rates and stress levels of the study’s volunteers. After raising the volunteers’ heart rates through a set of exercises and tests, Dr. Lewis measured the rate at which they lowered while the volunteers read (68 percent); listened to music (61 percent); drank tea (54 percent); took a walk (42 percent); and played video games (21 percent). During his research, Lewis realized that reading distracts the mind, lowers heart rate, and releases muscle tension.

“Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation,” said Dr. Lewis in a Marie Claire article. “This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.”

This ‘altered state of consciousness’ helps imaginations soar and ideas come to life. Many scientists and psychologists, like Dr. Lewis, continually research the benefits of reading to help people spark creativity and self-preservation. For example, Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow at Harvard’s Technology and Entrepreneurship Center and author of Creating Innovators:  The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, gives lectures about the importance of reading. Wagner believes that reading sparks imagination and creativity, and in order to live a healthy, fulfilled life, those attributes are crucial.

This summer, get off the couch and away from Game of Thrones (better yet, buy the book series!) and relax poolside with a real page-turner. It’ll do your mind (and nerves) some good!

Need help getting started? Your summer just got hotter with this reading list:

  • Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Beautiful Creatures series – Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
  • The Bridal QuartetNora Roberts
  • Where Rainbows EndCecelia Ahern
  • MarianaSusanna Kearsley
  • Paradise – Judith McNaught
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • The Peach Keeper – Sarah Addison Allen
  • The Princess Bride – William Goldman

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Categories: Your Lifestyle

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