How to reduce your stress level with audiobooks

Maybe you’re also commuting on a daily basis to work and back. I certainly have to commute: work, BJJ, MMA, qi gong, yoga, gym, friends, and back home. The list is probably longer but you get the idea. I simply have to drive around a lot in order to get to places. I wish I could use public transport for a few of those tasks. Unfortunately, this won’t work, as the commuting times would simply not allow it and neither the mediocre access I have to public transportation in and around Luxembourg. In the past I wasn’t using my commuting hours much (if at all). I listened to music or radio until I realized that I could use this time way more efficiently. I love reading, but due to work and all my other hobbies this often proves to be difficult. So a few months ago I rekindled a former hobby and I started to listen to audiobooks. Fun fact: in the 1930s they were called “talking books”.

Audiobooks killed the radio star

The amount of books I “read” since I switched from music to audiobooks has increased tremendously. Just to give you an idea, in the last twelve months I listened to the Bartimaeus Sequence, the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon), the Hunger Games trilogy, A Blight of Mages, Innocent Mage, the Awakened Mage and started the Millennium series.

tower of books

This “pile” of books is worth lots and lots of hours of reading. As I’m reading the paper versions of a few ongoing graphic novels and mangas I think it’s fair to assume that I wouldn’t have managed to actually read those books for a long time. It feels great to get through those stories and once you get the hang of it, carefully listening and still being a responsible driver is no problem at all. You might miss a few story details here and there, but I can live with that (and you can always rewind an audiobook). Otherwise, I couldn’t have enjoyed all those stories at all.

Audiobooks and podcasts

It goes without saying that if you have books you love, you want to hold them in your hands. Thus savouring every detail and second of them. For those books an audiobook isn’t the right choice. I have those kinds of books, too. I end up having two stacks of books: one with actual books and one full of audiobooks.

Audiobooks can be expensive. It’s the same as it is with books: At first you can only access the hardcover (expensive) and later the paperback (cheaper) is published. If you have a tight budget you’ll wait for the paperback. The same goes for audiobooks, after a while they become cheaper or are on sale. You might even sign up somewhere and get an audiobook flat rate. Either way, you end up using your time more efficiently and can enjoy more stories!

Let the stress begin

If you’re commuting via public transport, the same idea applies. You take out your mobile phone or your mp3-player and listen to an audiobook or maybe a podcast. Especially if you don’t have enough space (in the bus, train) this is a great way to read without needing a book, or to get up to date with your podcasts (check out mine). Books can also be very heavy and add extra baggage. Your phone will be with you anyway and an extra mp3-player weighs next to nothing.

Audiobooks saved me reading time and reduced my stress level

Another positive side effect of my audiobook addiction is that I am much more relaxed. At first I didn’t even realized that I was more relaxed. Retrospectively, I’d say it took me about three months to notice that I was more relaxed and then a few more weeks to figure out why.
stop wasting timeIt’s not the audiobooks themselves which cause my reduced stress level, but rather the fact that I felt like not losing or wasting my time commuting anymore (or much less at least). Even when I was stuck in traffic for longer than I would have liked to. The fact that I was stuck in my car but able to continue listening to a story I cared about and was looking forward to simply took away any potential stressors!

Reinforcing positivity

With this decrease of potential stress, my average stress level decreased over time. I felt more relaxed while driving. Traffic jams, unavoidable as usual, became actually enjoyable. This started a virtuous cycle of stress reduction. The less stressed I felt, the less likely I became to succumb to stress. And this cycle helped me to be calmer in other situations, thus being less exposed to stress outside my car as well.

crossroads stress or relax

It’s important to note that in most cases distress (i.e. negative stress) is unnecessary, self-inflicted and –imposed. Let’s go back to the traffic jam problem. While commuting there is little I can do to get around any traffic issues. It’s rush hour and accidents happen. Furthermore, I’m limited in my choice of routes to get from A to B and if an accident occurs, all the roads are jammed anyway because everyone tries to avoid the blocked road or highway. As I have to be in the office at a certain time I cannot freely choose my travel times (which means rush hour is inevitable). Ultimately I have to accept traffic and potential traffic jams as a given parameter. Once I did this, my stress level dropped further. There was no reason to complain, to scream or to get angry. I relaxed and focused on my audiobooks.

7 Replies to “How to reduce your stress level with audiobooks”

  1. Avneesh 'avy' Raizada

    I never replied but this so relates to me, in the mornings all I’m doing now is listening to poker podcasts 2-3 sometimes 4h long so I can just pause and resume on my next commute. It’s super interesting and soothing because I don’t listen to the same music playlist of 400 songs again and again, obviously I get new ones often but it’s still a lot of music and sometimes redundant.

    Not only are the poker podcasts intellectual but also funny, interesting and simply something new/fresh to listen too 🙂

    1. Stefan Post author

      I like how you can do something you have to do anyhow (like commuting) and simultaneously do something you really enjoy. Isn’t it distracting or difficult to listen to poker podcasts? I assume those are very detailed and technical.

      1. Avneesh 'avy' Raizada

        Not really, it’s just like listening to a talkshow on the radio. Casual chit chat, it’s nice for instance if you’re with a friend and don’t have much to talk about just turn on a podcast of a common interest like sports/esports/poker/audiobooks w/e

        When you’re driving it’s just about making sure you obviously focus on the road and just have background noise..just like music 🙂

  2. Chel

    Love this. I’ve been such an avid reader, but I haven’t found time lately to actually do reading… so I’ve been doing audio books as well. I will agree that sometimes I stay a bit longer in my car to listen to the complete chapter or finish my last podcast. Oops.

    1. Avneesh 'avy' Raizada

      Ha can totally relate, when I get home after work or a day out and I have something running in the car, I get so consumed by it I don’t leave the car till a few minutes after I park sometimes 😛 can go for quite long! Luckily it’s usually just at home, imagine if it was out in public and you’d see passers-by look at you awkwardly wondering why you’re smiling inside the car ^^

      1. Stefan Post author

        And there I thought for a second I was the only one doing this 😛 Every now and then it becomes a struggle to stop the audiobook and continue with whatever awaits you at life. I guess that means the story is good 😀

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