It all stems from the balance of those stress hormones I talked about in my last post. People who love to read can reduce their stress at will simply by choosing their reading material wisely. Unlike people who unwind by watching TV where you are bombarded with images, advertising, and carefully targeted social messages, people who read for pleasure have more control over the amount of stimulus they are receiving because they are better able to control their involvement in the story. It doesn't appear to matter what you are reading either. Fiction, fine literature, non-fiction, scientific journals, smut novels, whatever you like as long as you enjoy it.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Images, once seen, can be very powerful and produce an instant and lasting stress response in the body: increased heart rate, increased adrenaline, and increased cortisol. However images, once imagined, can be controlled, edited, and don't ellicit the same stress response in the body. It's less stressful to read something scary than to see something scary.
Research is also showing that people who read for pleasure tend to read more in general: they read more food labels, they research questions online, they feel more comfortable questioning 'facts' and more confident in their ability to discern what is right for them as opposed to following a trend.
Lower blood pressure, higher IQ, better quality sleep, better concentration, more confidence, and better judgement. All because I love to read! If that isn't a healthy habit, I don't know what is.
Read any good books lately? I love to hear what other people are reading. I have just finished re-reading all of Jen Lancaster's autobiographies in anticipation of Pretty in Plaid coming out in paperback this week!