Black PulpReading Black Speculative Fiction has plenty of benefits – from heightening your imagination and creativity to building good character, to just having a great time exploring new worlds.

But now there is an even more important reason to pick up a book from Roaring Lions Productions, MVmedia and other Blacktastic authors and publishers.

New research by the University of Sussex has revealed that reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels by 68% or more.

Black ReadersThe findings further show that reading a book works better and faster to reduce stress than listening to music, going for a walk or sitting down with a warm cup of tea.

Why?

Psychologists say it is because the human mind becomes part of the world of the book when reading fiction and this journey to a world outside of the one that stressed you out eases the tension in the muscles, including the heart and the brain.

You only need to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles.

Listening to music reduced stress by 61%; a cup of tea or coffee lowered stress by 54% and taking a walk by 42%.

Playing video games brought stress levels down by 21% but left the volunteers with elevated heart rates well above their starting point.

Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation. By treating yourself to a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination.

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.

This is especially important for Afrikan people in America (yes, I spelled ‘Afrikan’ with a K), who suffer from greater levels of negative stress than any other group in the world.

Balogun OjetadeOn August 31, 2012, I suffered seven cerebellar ischemic strokes. The fact that I survived one such stroke, let alone seven, and never lost cognizance, nor suffered any paralysis, left doctors scratching their heads and left me intrigued by the cause, as I am in good physical shape, teach martial arts and avoid iodized salt, pork, a lot of red meat and greasy foods. I am also only in my mid-forties, so, while I was happy to be alive and – for the most part – unaffected by the strokes, I was also concerned about what caused them in the first place.

The major contributing factor is stress. Negative stress, that is. Negative stress is highly destructive and can lead to permanent disability or death. Sadly, we do not understand stress and have thus trivialized it and placed the blame for our stress on others. How many times have you told someone (or they told you) “You’re stressing me out”, as if they have power of you? We control how we deal with stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is the non-specific response of the body to any demand placed on it. In layman’s terms, stress is anything that causes a change in your body.  These changes are triggered by different feelings such as sadness, fear, anger and happiness. Every time your feelings change your body changes and this results in stress.

Stress Stress can create feelings of conflict and /or anxiety within you. It can stem from demands you place on yourself or from external stimuli. If stress is not identified and resolved, it can progressively deteriorate your ability to function physically, mentally and emotionally.

Everyone has stress, regardless of age, sex or race. 

All stress is not bad, nor does all stress have a negative effect on us.  Some stress we experience is good and has a positive and motivating effect. 

We have problems when we experience too much, or too little, stress in our lives. 

Too much stress causes us to feel tense and pressured; this creates conflict.  Too little stress makes us feel bored, unmotivated and lethargic, which also creates conflict within us and sometimes with others. 

Therefore, it is important to maintain a proper level of stress in your life. 

Signs of Stress

The body gives you signals to let you know that you are experiencing stress.

Some signs of stress are headaches, dizziness, fast heartbeat, abnormal eating habits, troubled breathing, inability to slow down or relax, depression, ulcers, high-blood pressure, phobias, and disturbed sleep patterns.

Causes

Stress can be caused by a number of things happening in your life at any point and time.  For example it could be not having enough money; poor self- concept; death; divorce; winning the lottery; or graduating from high school, college or Grad School, but the most frequent cause of stress is change, such as loss of a loved one; job loss or advancement; illness or injury and lifestyle changes.

Effects

Some stress is positive – eustress – and creates good opportunities and outlets in life. Positive stress can keep you motivated and inspire your creativity.

Negative stress – or distress – results in debilitating anxiety that affects your overall mental, emotional and physical health.

StudyingFor avid readers, the fact that reading reduces stress is bonus news but to those who don’t read often enough or dislike reading, it’s time for a change – one that produces good stress and reduces negative stress. It’s time to take a mini-vacation of the mind…that is read a book!

If you or your child are a reluctant reader, I recommend reading a gamebook, which puts you directly into the story and allows you to choose how the story progresses. Gamebooks are also great for avid readers seeking something unique and something that allows them to exercise their creativity while enjoying an amazing story.

So, go ahead, grab a book and give yourself a healthier and happier life!

Go here for a few books to get you started.

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

5 responses »

  1. Milton says:

    No wonder writers are so laid back. 🙂 Great blog as always, Balogun.

  2. PaperbackDiva says:

    Reblogged this on speculative diversity and commented:
    check it out.

  3. Fujimoto says:

    Well that’s helpful to know. I wish I could get more people to read. Maybe this can convince them.

  4. […] also often turn to fantasy for stress relief. With Blacks suffering from the highest rates of hypertension, high blood pressure, heart attacks […]

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