Last weekend, Juan and I made the eight-hour drive to my family's cabin in Utah for a getaway weekend. There's no WiFi, no phone service and no one else around for miles, so we had the rare opportunity to completely disconnect from our daily routine and the world at large, which couldn't have come at a better time.
I've been feeling extra overwhelmed and anxious lately, but once I sat on the front porch of the cabin, book in hand and surrounded by greenery, I instantly felt so much better. I was reminded that a change of scenery and a good story can have restorative powers.
The article How Trees Calm Us Down suggests that there's something about nature that speaks to us and, as a result, makes us happier, live longer and even earn more money, whether we simply view trees from outside a window or walk along a tree-lined sidewalk. Though this seemed like a no-brainer while I was on vacation taking in the scenic view, on a daily basis, it's easy to forget that there's a world beyond my computer screen.
In Can Reading Make You Happier, social anthropologist and author Ceridwen Dovey explores the idea of reading for therapeutic benefits. She writes: "Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers."
I can't recall exactly when I started to self-medicate with books, but for as long as I can remember, I've always been able to rely on a work of fiction to pull me out of a particularly difficult day. Dovey's insightful article about bibliotherapy (who knew such a magnificent thing existed!) articulates why turning to novels for mental and emotional relief actually works.
Pairing a great book with the great outdoors only seems natural and the research-supported benefits speak for themselves. For me, it worked like a charm and helped keep me from feeling completely overwhelmed so I could start a new week with a more positive mindset.
How are you these days? Are there any books that have helped you de-stress? I'd to hear...