A different way to hit the books

College is stressful, but you probably already knew that. If it somehow comes as a shock to you—sorry to burst your bubble—but this stuff isn’t easy. Balancing classes, your job, spending time with friends and family, studying and somehow finding the time to drink eight cups of water a day is a feat not meant for the faint of heart.

And yet here we are, faint heart and all, attempting the feat. It’s not impossible at all, but it can definitely take the wind out of your sails. When you become stressed, you naturally find a way to deal with it. Sometimes in good ways. Sometimes in not so good ones.

But there’s one way to deal with stress that’s easy, calming and most importantly, cheap. This is a big secret; I hope you’re ready for it. I don’t even know if I should really be telling you this, but here we go:

Read a book. Literally. Just read a book.

In college you read plenty of textbooks, research papers and articles, but when’s the last time you read something for pleasure?

A 2018 study by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex found reading a book for just six minutes a day can reduce your stress by up to 68%. 

While how much a person is de-stressed by reading a book will vary from individual to individual, the fact is casual reading might just be your secret weapon in college’s war against your psyche. 

Reading is all about escape. It’s about going to another world, having insight into another life and learning things you didn’t know before.

“This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination,” the study’s co-author Dr. David Lewis says. “The words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.”

Considering you can get all that from just six minutes, it’s a deal too good to pass up.

But so many people do. 

A 2018 study done by the Pew Research Center found that nearly a quarter of adults in the U.S. hadn’t even touched a book that entire year.

With all the metaphorical eggs a college student is asked to juggle, it’s easy to see how fitting time to read into your schedule just doesn’t work. 

It does, though. 

Think of all the time during your day you spend standing around. That’s time to read. When you get to class early and you’re waiting for it to start, you’ve got time to read. When you go to bed, you probably scroll through your phone until you get tired. Guess what? Read a book instead.

You’ll spend a lot of time hitting the books in college, and a lot of times the books will hit back. However, not all books are evil. The next time you’re down and out, stressed and pressed, consider going to the library and finding a book. Find somewhere quiet, open it up and just read for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel.

mason.robert.dredge@mail.umkc.edu

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