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Explore our conversations, research and life at Literati as we discuss what it means to elevate the global consciousness through books.

How Stories Help Us Through Stressful Times

Keep calm and read on.

As a parent, you know that raising a child is alternately a thrilling and stressful responsibility. We don’t need to tell you again how, thanks to this pandemic, your job just got that much more difficult. Working from home and school cancellations don’t always play well together. And on top of all that, it’s no small feat to stay brave in the face of uncertainty for their watchful eyes.

Let’s take a break from the bad, shall we? Here’s some uplifting news:  

While it sometimes feels like we’re living in a sci-fi novel, it turns out that picking up and reading said novel—or, any book, for that matter—can help you de-stress faster than any other activity. 

That’s right—you should read to reduce stress. It’s science. 

Researchers from the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68 percent. (Think about your kids. Now, think about them being 68 percent more relaxed. You’re welcome.) 

Reading is both faster and more effective for relaxation than most other activities, such as walking, listening to music, or curling up with a cup of tea. 

As if you needed a better excuse to drop everything and read with your kids, here’s a few other reasons why we think reading is the best cure for troubled times: 

  1. Stories provide a welcome distraction.
    Reading a story allows both you and your child to mentally escape to a new world. One that’s not inundated with a lack of toilet paper and the constant repetition of the phrase “social distancing” (unless, of course, you’re into that!). 
  2. Reading gives them space to learn.
    In the absence of school or other care programs, reading every day helps to flex your child’s blossoming brain. And while books are crucial for encouraging curiosity in kids of all ages, they’re particularly important for younger children. By reading to your baby, toddler or preschooler regularly, you can send them off to kindergarten with a stronger vocabulary and even better behavior. One less thing to stress about!
  3. Storytime = cuddle time! 
    Reading together gives you and your family a reason to hold each other close, even if only for a few minutes. This physical closeness can help your child feel comforted and at-ease in an otherwise uncertain world. 
    For kids who are older and reading their own books, you can still arrange a time for the whole family to lounge around and read their own books, together. Any activity that evokes that precious sense of “togetherness” will have everyone feeling a little more relaxed. 
  4. …Or playtime!
    Flip the switch and read a story out loud while the kids act it out. It’s a great way to reduce stress and keep them occupied at the same time. (Phew!)

Now, let’s set the scene.

Grab your favorite, most imaginative Literati book to find a story that’s guaranteed to sweep away your child’s imagination. 

But if you really want to up the zen factor and create a soothing ambiance to help your kids (and let’s be real, yourself) stay calm, cool, and collected—here’s a few other tips:

  • Light candles. Close enough to feel the vibe yet far, far enough away from your kids. Safety first.
  • Tidy up. Easier said than done, we know. Try decluttering one small area. Cleaning is proven to reduce stress, too. 
  • Play music. It doesn’t have to be Frozen or anything else they’ll be compelled to launch into song for, as cute as it is. Try searching “zen” on Spotify!
  • Breathe. An action so vital yet easy to take for granted. Take a few deep, mindful breaths before settling into storytime. 

It’s a changing world out there. But while we’re spinning, the world of books holds steady. Reading transports us to new, magical places  where we can continue to learn, delight in new things, and feel hope. Books are a familiar haven, but most importantly right now, they settle our restless minds. 

So, the next time you’re ready to unwind? Reach for a book.

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