Want to reduce stress levels by 68% in 6 minutes? Pop the kettle on and read a book.

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Did you know, reading is not only fun, it can also positively affect your mental and physical health including reducing stress? Discover 5 reasons why you should pop the kettle on and pick up a book.

1. Makes you more clever

Research is increasingly showing that reading involves complex neural pathway connections in the brain, which get stronger and more complex with reading ability.[1]

Interestingly, in one study from 2013, researchers using MRI scans to monitor the effect of reading on the brain discovered that an increase in tension in the story caused more areas of the brain to be activated. Brain connectivity increased and lasted even days after finishing the book.[2]

Researchers have also found that reading books (especially from a young age) may increase your vocabulary and communication skills. This has obvious benefits from doing well in tests, securing the job you want and connecting with others.[3]

2. Improves empathy

Another study from 2013 showed that people who became absorbed in literary fiction were more aware of their feelings and the beliefs of others. Obviously the more you read, the more you are likely to benefit. Increasing your empathy helps you in your interaction with others and enables you improve social relationships, which in turn can boost your mental and physical health.[4]

3. Slows age-related cognitive decline

Reading might not prevent diseases like Alzheimers but some studies have shown that reading daily may maintain and improve cognitive function as we age.[5]

Another study from 2013 showed that doing cognitive activities, like reading, throughout your life might slow down memory loss compared to people who didn’t engage in mentally stimulating activities.[6]

4. Reduces stress

A research study carried out by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex in 2009 showed that after only six minutes of reading a book, the subjects’ stress levels were reduced by 68% compared to performing other activities such as listening to music (stress levels reduced by 61%), or taking a walk (stress levels reduced by 42%).[7]

Even better, if you drink a cup of tea while you’re reading, you’ll get a double whammy of stress reduction. A recent study by the Tea Advisory Panel found stress management (among other things as well as sleep), can be aided by several types of tea including regular black tea and green tea.

The active compounds in tea that could help relax and may aid sleep include polyphenols, L-theanine, theaflavins, thearubigins and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Both L-theanine, an amino acid, and GABA have direct effects on the brain, helping to activate pathways that lower stress and create calm and relaxation. Tea is the main natural source of L-theanine in our diet.

If you ever needed an excuse to curl up with a cuppa and your favourite book this is it![8]

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5. Prepares you for a good night’s rest

Many studies have shown that reading a book in bed before going to sleep improved sleep quality, compared to not reading a book in bed. For best results you might want to try a print book rather than reading on a screen with blue light. Remember your cup of herbal tea to help you relax and settle in for a night of zzzz’s.[9]


Reading has many benefits, especially when paired with a cup of your favourite tea. Regular reading may make you more clever, more empathetic, slow age-related cognitive decline, lower your stress levels and prepare you for a good night’s rest. Although the effects of reading are cumulative, it’s never too late to benefit from the many mental and physical advantages of immersing yourself in a good book so pop the kettle on a get reading.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4128180/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3868356/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21772058/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24091705/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2276592/

[6] https://n.neurology.org/content/81/4/314

[7] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.htm

[8] https://sciforschenonline.org/journals/nutrition-food/NFTOA182.php

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8740874/

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