Take it Slow
Modern life is often all go, go, go but a new idea called slow reading aims to use books to slow us down.
The idea is that when you sit down with a book, you engage with it, read every word slowly – even go back and read bits of it again, and use your imagination to really get involved with the story.
Reading in this way has a lot of benefits. “Slow reading takes you on a journey helping the mind to escape for a little while,” says psychotherapist Shane Warren. This alone is relaxing and calming, but as you slow down reading the words, Shane told us you also slow your heart rate, brain and breathing which actually destresses you more.
The problem is, most of us have become so good at going fast in life that we’re doing everything quickly so learning to slow read can take bit of practise.
“The tip I give my patients to break the habit of speed reading is to go back to how you learnt to read as a child,” says Shane. “Get your index finger, run it against the words and read them out loud.”
Author Kellie Byrnes also says “If we really want to take in the beauty of the words in front of us, it pays to slow down and listen to the sounds words make,” she told us. “When you come across especially beautiful passages, read them aloud. Words can affect you in a whole new way when spoken.”
“Slow reading takes you on a journey helping the mind to escape for a little while”
Kellie also suggests you really try to picture each part of the story in your head. Stop every so often to close your eyes, and think about the senses evoked by the author. What can the character see, feel, smell, taste, and hear? What is their world like? How would you react if you were in their situation?
“When it comes to slow reading, you might also want to read in the way that many authors do when we study other people’s work,” says Kellie. “For instance, you might like to wonder if you would have made the same choices as the author when it comes to plot decisions, and to the language used. Can you think of a better plot twist, a more unusual metaphor, or more natural dialogue?”
All of the above makes sitting to read a book a joy, a pleasure and a workout for your brain. The perfect way to pass a cool winter’s day.