The Benefits of Storytelling for our Mental Health

The Benefits of Storytelling for our Mental Health

As if the holidays weren’t already tough, this year we get to add all the struggles of a pandemic, fear, and hyper social isolation on top of traditionally stressful time.  According to data from the National Institutes of Health, nearly one in five Americans — 43.8 million people — live with mental illness. Many of us are dealing with isolation and we may find ourselves feeling disconnected from friends and family. This is where storytelling becomes a very powerful coping mechanism for thriving during the holidays. Since the beginning of time, a story is the the simplest form of a connection between humans.

While there is still research required to fully understand how storytelling fully impacts our mental health, the current data suggests that are several benefits to storytelling from improved memory to better mood to better interpersonal relationships. We actually think in narratives all day long. We make up short stories in our heads for every action and conversation.

Your brain will benefit from the daily exercise of creativity and it is an excellent way to share with the people in your world. When we hear a story unfold our brain waves actually start to synchronize with those of the storyteller. These stories enable us to see a situation from a different perspective and it can even shift our core beliefs when we come out of a story back into regular life. We have all experienced the collective impact of social isolationism this year. Storytelling can help build back those healthy relationships.

There are few storytelling tips for mental fitness, better relationships, and health brain again. Storytelling should be fun entertainment. Get excited with some enthusiasm and energy. A good story does not have to be long but be sure to use lots of details while remembering an event from the past. Include details like the clothes people wore, how they moved, and what things felt like. Learn to notice and appreciate the wonderful quirks all the characters in your story. Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the trap of thinking your story isn’t interesting. Storytelling is more about how you tell something than what you are telling.

Be intentional this holiday season with your storytelling but also asking for stories of friends and loved ones. Tales of generations before us have helped to share who we are are today. There is great comfort in hearing stories to know we are not alone and that we can overcome these challenging times together.