Tiredness, stress and anxiety. Just a few of the hurdles that we all as university students face on a daily basis. With essay deadlines and mid-term exams on the horizon, your levels of stress are most probably through the roof right now. However, I have an unlikely remedy to relieve your stress. Turn off your Netflix account, log out of Facebook and pick up your nearest book! Honestly , a good book is the key to a stress free life!
Self help books are the new modern craze and they seem to be absolutely everywhere. In every book store there are shelves upon shelves of these guides that aim to educate you on how you can become the most happiest, healthiest and richest you.
However, although these self help books are highly effective for many people, you don’t need to read these preaching pieces of literature to reduce anxiety and be a happier and healthier. In fact, all good literature can change us for the better.
Novels are places where we can completely lose ourselves. Where we can detach ourselves from our own lives and issues and become immersed in another world with different concerns. It sparks our imagination into overdrive and stimulates our creative juices to flow freely. Our thoughts no longer become preoccupied with our own lives.
As well as this, literature also develops our socially able nature. It can teach us how to deal with particular situations and certain incidents of behaviour. Novels make us more empathetic individuals. They educate us socially.
Even though good literature does not guarantee individual transformation like self help guides do, they in fact do just the same. They engage with the concept of memory, self reflection and also consolation. Literature provides us a form of escapism that is extremely advantageous for our overworked brains. The exercise of imagination is a mental healing process. The working of our imagination detaches us from the stress of reality.
This notion of fiction as therapy however is not a modern phenomenon. It has in fact been around since the ancient Greeks. The Greeks would post signs above library doors informing people that they were entering a healing place for the soul. In my opinion, this should still be the view of literature and library’s today. Books should not considered as a bore or chore, but in fact a pleasurable healer. Novels should be viewed as a key way to relax the mind.
As well as relaxing the mind, novels can also educate us in our own lives. Through a characters experiences we can become made aware of problems that we may also possess in our own lives that we may of been ignorant to. Narratives can teach us about ourselves and can stimulate self criticism and thus personal development. Texts can teach us things about ourselves that we never even knew. Novels are great tools for self reflexivity.
So when you’re next feeling stressed or overwhelmed with anxiety, make yourself a cup of tea and immerse yourself in a good book. It doesn’t have to be for long. You will be amazed at what just half an hour of reading can provide you. Get lost in another world. Detach yourself from your own stressful life. I guarantee you that will feel far more relaxed and happier in yourself.
However, if you are stuck for some good literature to get your teeth stuck into, then here are my top ten favourite texts! Enjoy fellow readers!
1- Alices Adventures in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll
2- To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
3- The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter
4- The Great Gatsby- F Scott Fitzgerald
5-Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
6- Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
7- The Handmades Tale- Margaret Atwood
8- Death of a Salesman- Arthur Miller
9- A Curious Incident of a Dog in the Nighttime- Mark Haddon
10- The Woman in Black – Susan Hill