Stressed? Overwhelmed? Is your to do list too long? Are your children only seeing the back of your head as you drive them from one activity to another?

If so, you may want to consider this form of stress reduction: reading. A new study out from the University of Sussex in Great Britain confirms what I have suspected all along: reading is one of the single, best stress reducers and lowers your stress significantly and quickly.

According to the study, just six minutes of silent reading can lower your stress levels by as much 68 percent! Wow! That is a whopping amount of cortisol reduction in a small amount of time!

The study reveals that unlike watching television or some other activities, reading requires real concentration which creates a distraction. This apparently eases muscle tension and slows the heart rate.

Guess what came in second to reading in the overall stress reducing activities. The correct answer is listening to music. It cuts down on stress by as much as 61 percent in the same six minutes, according to the British based study.

So, if you find yourself incredibly stressed out and don’t have time for a long walk or some other form of physical exercise, perhaps you should journey over to the Art Circle Public Library and check out a book or two. If you really want to get into a stress-free zone, then perhaps you could turn on your radio or iPod on the drive over to check out a book!

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Lots of activities to mention this week. Fair pageants begin Friday night at Stone Memorial High School. Both high schools are in football action. Second Harvest Food Bank is beginning its food collection drive among Cumberland County schools, and Senior Day at Cumberland County Fair is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 31.

The Cumberland County Fair Association Pageants will begin Friday night at Stone Memorial High School with the 7-9 and 10-12- year old contests. The 13-15 and 16-20 year old contestants will vye for the title of Junior Fairest and Fairest of the Fair on Saturday night beginning at 6 in the SMHS auditorium.

The Cumberland County High School Football Jets will travel to Campbell County on Friday night. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. The Stone Panthers are also on the road. They will face Sweetwater. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m.

Senior Day at Cumberland County Fair will get under way on Wednesday with 8:30 a.m. bingo games. The new Ms. Senior Cumberland County Pageant is slated for 9:45 a.m. on the main stage. Other events on tap include horseshoes, corn hole, spelling bee, rooster crowing, yodeling and a softball throw. Senior Day is free of charge!

The Cumberland County Fair will last until Saturday of next week. Don’t forget to visit the midway. Stop by the exhibit booths, watch some live demonstrations and listen to the entertainment!

And finally, Second Harvest Food Bank is once again asking Cumberland County schools to raise canned and other non-perishable items for its food pantry. The competition is under way and will continue until the Jets and Panthers game later this fall. Winners of the food drive competition will be announced at halftime. If you want more information about the Cumberland County Football Challenge, contact Drew Landrus at the Crab Orchard Care Center. He may be reached at 459-2187 or call Susan Martino, event co-coordinator at Second Harvest Food Bank. Her number is (865) 521-0000.

Landrus said, “This undertaking allows Cumberland Countians to assist Second Harvest at a time of great need."

Last year this county provided more than 250,000 pounds of food for Second Harvest.

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