Relaxation is Aloud
What with political uncertainty, global warming and who knows what personal challenges you’re facing, it’s no wonder that we’re all a bit stressed at the moment! So it comes as no surprise that wellness, mindfulness and spiritual wellbeing are being touted as the cultural buzzwords for 2019.
Browse any magazine, paper or website and you’re virtually guaranteed to come across an article focusing on meditation, mindful exercising or the benefits of the slow eating movement. In fact, there’s so much competing information out there that we feel stressed just thinking about it!
So when we came across an article in The Sunday Times Style, 13 January called Hear Me Now by Pandora Sykes we were a little relieved. Yes, this is yet another article focused on techniques for stress relief and memory improvement, but this approach is tangible and enjoyable. What’s more, it’s something that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine whether you’re a high-flying executive, a busy parent or a mind-expanding student (or all three!).
The premise is simple: reading aloud is good for your mental health. Bibliotherapy, where a therapist prescribes reading to bolster your mental health is a well-established and popular technique. Meanwhile, says Sykes, “spending on audiobooks in the UK more than doubled between 2013 and 2017, from £12 to £31m.” However, reading aloud is a relatively new concept for adults, promoted by Meghan Cox Gourdan. She explains that when our “attention is yanked in a thousand directions, taking the time to read aloud can be like applying a soothing balm to the soul…It’s not just a simple, cosy, nostalgic pastime but a dazzlingly transformative, a radical act.”
Apparently, in contrast to reading silently, reading aloud is a tonic. “It is all too easy for eyes to be zipping along, skittering and jumping and taking in meaning by the glance. The ear demands a steadier pace.” Indeed, researchers back up the theory, with the University of Waterloo in Canada concluding that reading something aloud improves your ability to recall it from memory by 15%.
It’s suggested that reading aloud to yourself for just 5 minutes a day allows you to ‘plug in,’ it connects you with your environment. And if a loved one reads to you that can be an incredibly intimate experience. Finally, anyone who can read can do this.
Futon Company says: What a wonderfully simple way to create some instant down-time. There’s nothing we like more in the winter months than hunkering down on a snug sofa with a cup of tea and a cosy blanket. We love the fact that reading aloud means we’re allowed to relax (sorry- couldn’t resist!). Time to unleash your inner book worm!