The Oxford Dictionary tells us that “relax” means “to rest and do something enjoyable, especially after work or effort”. We all have our own way of winding down. Having a lie-in and lounge around the house, taking a leisurely bath, watching box sets, having lunch with friends, or doing yoga or pilates. America even has a National Relaxation Day every August. According to The Des Moines Register, this unofficial holiday was founded by Sean Moeller in 1985, when he was in fourth-grade (year 5 in England).
Although having a holiday that compels you to relax might seem off the wall, sometimes we need to be told to step off the treadmill and chill. It has been proven that stress can be harmful to our health, both mentally and physically, which sounds like the ideal excuse to put your feet up and zone out. At Arlette Gold, we love to curl up with a good book.
Research carried out by the University of Sussex in 2009 found that reading can reduce stress levels by 68%; and participants only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down their heart rate and ease tension in the muscles. It works quicker and faster than other relaxation methods such as listening to music, because you lose yourself in a world that is free from the stress of everyday life.
"It really doesn't matter what book you read. This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness" said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, who ran the study.
Reading really is a miracle cure – it can also improve your memory, increase empathy and help you sleep.
Here are Arlette Gold’s best recent reads – the only downside being that you might stay up all night reading, unable to put your book down!