Turn the Page on Stress: Tapping Into the De-Stressing Potential of Books and Storytelling

portrait of beautiful woman...
portrait of beautiful woman...

Stress -- it's one of the most harmful forces in our lives. It can damage our health, our relationships, our careers, our marriages and even curb our creativity. It literally wears us down, both physically and psychologically. There's no one who is immune to it, and we all experience it regularly. But while stress is universal, we have a lot more control than we exercise over how we deal with it. No matter what kind of stress you're facing, you have the power to reduce its destructive effects.

That's why I'm happy to announce that all 13 of our lifestyle sections -- from Travel and Parents to Weddings and Divorce -- have an editorial mission to help our readers travel with less stress, parent with less stress, get married with less stress and, yes, get divorced with less stress. And today our books section is launching "Turn the Page on Stress," a HuffPost Books project tapping into the de-stressing potential of books and storytelling. Even with all the high-tech gadgets at our disposal, the timeless act of reading is a way to connect with ideas and with the past, but also with ourselves.

To explore this unique power of reading, "Turn the Page on Stress" is opening up the conversation to HuffPost editors, our community of bloggers and authors with insights on the written word's unique capacity to transport and transform. As one of today's bloggers, Sheenie Ambardar, puts it, "Few experiences in life have the potential to be as profound, spiritual, transcendent, and transformational as the reading of a good book, quietly and in solitude."

Of course, since art often imitates life, our literature is filled with stressed-out characters. Hamlet. Ahab. Holden Caulfield. The guy in the "Tell-Tale Heart." But as anyone who's ever cracked open the covers of a book -- or powered up a Kindle or an iPad -- knows, reading offers not only an escape from life's stresses, but also a powerful tool for self-examination and reflection. There's nothing like dropping in on somebody else's world to put your own stresses in perspective.

It's not only the words of others that can keep stress at bay. "Turn the Page on Stress" is also about helping you tap into your own storytelling abilities and putting the spotlight on how writing can be a tool for de-stressing in all areas of our lives. Like parenting, as psychologist Karen Horneffer-Ginter blogs today; she found that writing down her most stressful experiences as a new mother helped her see the humor in it all.

"Turn the Page on Stress" kicks off with our books editor Andrew Losowsky on why we take books on vacation; associate books editors Zoë Triska and Madeleine Crum on books to avoid when you're trying to de-stress; and Madeleine Crum on books that can help you relax after a breakup.

Our lineup of bloggers includes stress and resilience expert Paula Davis-Laack on keeping a journal; Denise Scarbro on the causes of stress; Boise State University psychology professor Mary Pritchard on how reading offers a "mini siesta" from life's problems; psychiatrist Sheenie Ambardar on what reading teaches us about ourselves; author Christy Matta on metaphors as a tool for stress reduction; and wellness expert Linden Schaffer on unplugging at the library and elsewhere.

So, yes, we're all busy and we're all stressed, but one of the most important things we can do -- both for ourselves and those around us -- is to take the time to figure out ways we can diminish the destructive power of stress. We hope "Turn the Page on Stress" will point you in some useful -- and entertaining -- directions. Please add to the conversation by letting us know which books, authors, and writing practices help you to manage your stress. And as always, use the comments section to let us know what you think.

Add your voice to the conversation on Twitter: twitter.com/ariannahuff