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The relationship between storytelling and mental wellness

Storytelling can be about values, qualities we admire, history, culture, morals or simply about fun. But one thing is for sure – storytelling has been the one of the best tools traditionally, as well as in modern life, to ensure holistic mental wellness.

Why are we so fond of the art of storytelling? What is it about them that make stories so popular? Over the course of history, community elders and their stories have been regarded as treasure troves of society’s knowledge, history and wisdom. As a matter of fact, the art of storytelling has long been a respected skill and important tradition in many cultures. If we refer to a few studies conducted around storytelling, we would discover that compelling stories tend to have psychological as well as therapeutic effects on an individual.

There are several benefits of storytelling with regard to mental wellness such as improved memory, better mood status, enhanced imagination power and in some cases, better interpersonal skills. It’s not hard to notice that whenever any information is passed on in the form of a story, it has a better recall value. A mere reference to the title of a story brings back the message or anecdote associated. Similarly, when we feel gloomy or low, listening to a captivating story helps us cheer up and think positively. Also, it’s almost a cliché now to talk about how stories give wings to our imagination and experience locations, landscapes, cultures etc that we have never witnessed in reality.

Our brain is the strongest tool and is considered to have both receptors as well as transmitters to process as well as conclude various information available in the environment. Storytelling plays an important role in channelizing our thought process, thereby boosting our imagination power. Listening to stories gives one the option to digress from troubling issues around, at least momentarily, helping them live in a moment with the storyteller’s imagination.

It has been stated time and again that stress is a major factor behind mental health issues, especially in the wake of the modern lifestyle changes. Here too, storytelling plays the role of a great healer. Once we hit the bed after a day-long of different activities, many of us have the tendency to plug in our earphones and listen to music, watch spiritual videos or indulge in any similar activity. This usually is an attempt to reduce at least some fraction of the stress we experienced. In the same manner, when we listen to a story before sleeping, it calms us down and helps in getting a sound sleep. And since storytelling often touches upon our nostalgia, it takes us back to our happy times, leaving a positive impression on our mind.

Apart from these, a few studies show that growing number of people suffering from dementia-like conditions are showing an increased inclination towards group-based storytelling, as such activities resultantly aids their mental wellness. In fact, storytelling today is an important part of reminiscence therapy, which uses all senses like sight, touch, taste, smell and sound to help them remember people, places and events from the forgotten chapters of life.

Storytelling can be about values, qualities we admire, history, culture, morals or simply about fun. But one thing is for sure – storytelling has been the one of the best tools traditionally, as well as in modern life, to ensure holistic mental wellness.


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World Mental Health Day 2020 world mental health day

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