It’s Official: Reading Is Good For Your Health

Allison Hay © Sally Lindsay back our "me time" reading campaign

Did you know that reading is officially good for your health?

Research has shown that reading for just six minutes a day can help reduce stress levels by up to 68%.

Brits who read short stories are also more likely to feel less stressed, thanks to the bite-sized pieces of fiction allowing them to complete the story in the time it takes to enjoy a hot drink.

“Me-time” is elusive for many of us

This matters, because – according to new research from “The People’s Friend” – millions of Brits are not getting enough time for themselves.

Sleep, sunshine, exercise, money, and time to read were also named among the things adults could do with more of.

The study reveals over three-quarters (78%) of us crave more “me time”, as nearly a fifth (18%) of Brits say they get only an hour to themselves a week.

The research of 2,000 British adults was commissioned to launch a new initiative to encourage the nation to pick up a short story and read for just six minutes a day, or the time it takes to enjoy a hot drink.

Why are we all feeling so stressed?

Those polled said household chores (52%), work (41%) and prioritising others (33%) were named as the biggest barriers to not carving out time to themselves in their day.

This has resulted in nearly two thirds (62%) of busy Brits feeling more stressed than they did last year. Wasting time scrolling on their phone was also one of the biggest barriers for over a quarter of Brits (27%).

The study also discovered that Brits consider eight hours of sleep a night to be the perfect amount – although the average adult gets just over six hours. Similarly, Brits would like to go to the gym about four times a week but only have time to go twice.

The study found a lack of money is the biggest barrier to “getting enough” in life, followed by a lack of time and being easily distracted.

Reading really is good for your health

Reading ranked alongside going for a walk and watching TV as the best activity to help Brits reduce stress.

Over three quarters of Brits (78%) say they feel less stressed when they carve out time for themselves, with 69% saying they feel more relaxed after reading.

Over half (51%) of Brits make new year’s resolutions every year to read more but two fifths (39%) don’t finish books that they start due to lack of time.

In fact, nearly two thirds (63%) say they often swap reading time for screen time.

“The People’s Friend” is launching the initiative to raise awareness of the wellbeing benefits of short stories, which include reduced stress, improved mental health, and better sleep.

Sally Lindsay back our "me time" reading campaign

Sally Lindsay

Sally Lindsay backs our campaign

Sally Lindsay, recently announced Head Judge of The People’s Friend New Writers’ Prize, is backing our campaign.

“Everyone knows how beneficial reading is, but people usually only find time for it now and again,” she says.

“With a short story, you can pick it up and finish it as quickly as you can a cup of tea and it brings a sense of satisfaction that you don’t get in many other places. ”

Our campaign also has the support of wellbeing coach Lucy Beresford.

She says: “Research shows that reading for just six minutes a day can have a dramatic effect on people’s wellbeing.

“Taking much needed ‘me time’ to switch off and switch on to a good short story provides a positive mental boost and reduces stress, relaxing muscles and tension, giving you a good reset moment.”

To enjoy a weekly dose of uplifting fiction, subscribe to The People’s Friend or pick up a copy at your local newsagent.

Leisa Millar

I'm a digital editor with experience of writing and editing for some of the UK's best-known women's lifestyle titles - and I'm delighted to count "The People's Friend" and "My Weekly" among them! A busy mum of three young children, I also host a parenting podcast called The SEN Mums' Career Club.