How Does Storytelling Transforms Mental Health?
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How Does Storytelling Transforms Mental Health?


Tell me, who doesn’t like storytelling? Stories have always been an integral part of our lives… Right? Most of us wouldn’t have slept without listening to those bedtime stories. Do you remember the childhood stories that you’ve heard throughout? If you remember so clearly, each of the stories we have heard in our childhood definitely would have a moral value in it. Those values are what we have been holding onto since then.. right? Similarly, how would it be when you get to heal through stories? Storytelling is an art and form of healing.

This article can help you know the various aspects of storytelling and its impact on Mental health.

Read More: The Psychology of Visual Storytelling: How Video Editing Influences Viewer Emotions

Evolution of storytelling

We get to know that Storytelling has been termed today as one of those effective means of intervention. It’s not today, but history tells us that it has been used since our ancient civilizations. From being a traditional way of sharing wisdom and values to sharing mythologies and religious values to serving as a means of helping individuals heal through their mental health issues, Storytelling has come a long way.

Coming to evolution, Ancient Greece used it as a means for making individuals express what is from within the Eastern world using it as a means for imparting moral values and philosophy and finally, the modern world uses it widely in the whole world as a means of transformation and promotion of mental health.

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Science behind Storytelling

We as humans, have come a long way through storytelling. It was used as a means of communicating with others. The innate tendency of us to listen to stories and imbibe their values has made us celebrate movies through theatres and online platforms. Not just a tradition, storytelling also has a science behind it. Storytelling tends to pay more attention throughout the narrative.

An interesting science behind storytelling is that it can cause a neural connection. Whenever we listen to a story, we get into the soul of the story and pay the same emotion as the storyteller. This process causes neurons to fire in the same wavelength as the storyteller. This mechanism is called neural coupling which is otherwise known as mirroring. So, the other interesting fact is after neural coupling the brain stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine can enhance your mood, pleasure and satisfaction.

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Major aspects of storytelling

Like other concepts, Storytelling does have major elements or aspects. The major four elements include:

  1. Introduction – should have the introduction of the main characters in the story, followed by the plot setting. This should give us an insight into what the issue or the problem is (the central theme)
  2. Rising action– setting up a few plots or scenes to build the character and push the story forward
  3. Climax– the peak of the story with an engaging and more importantly a significant finale.
  4. Falling action– the one followed by the climax which tells us what happens after the gripping end and how the story or the characters live from then on. This does include the resolution of the issue or the problem stated.

How do you tell a story?

Every one of us is not a good storyteller who dares to hold the attention of the audience or clients. So, what should a story have to make it effective? Good storytelling should have the potential of transcending the client’s attention and focus towards the story. This could be possible with the narration of similar events that the individual has experienced which is what we call coherence. The next one has to do with the creation of a visual experience. The final part is that the storytelling should help you gain insight through it. Storytelling could help individuals understand themselves, their problems or issues and get a solution to them as well.

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Storytelling and Mental Health

Storytelling has its benefits on our psychological or mental health. The benefits include:

  • Storytelling helps you get through a whole lot of emotions throughout the narration. You will get to experience various emotions throughout the story. This would help you go through the emotions, learn from them and reform the stories in a different perspective that the individual is going through.
  • Not only do oxytocin and dopamine get released but also there is a reduction in the release of the neurotransmitter cortisol which tends to increase pain. So, when you are in the process of storytelling it can reduce the level of cortisol that can uplift positive emotions.
  • Storytelling cultivates resilience. Resilience is the tendency of an individual to bounce back from the dreaded situation or condition he or she is battling with. It can get you through empowerment.
  • Storytelling can improve memory. Listening to a story through narratives can make us remember almost all the aspects presented in the story.
  • Has the potential to nurture the individual’s imagination.
  • Storytelling can enhance listening skills. Active listening is one of the important aspects of engaging with society or community.
  • Listening to a story can release the neurotransmitter called oxytocin which is associated with empathy.
  • Storytelling has also been used as an intervention for individuals with dementia as reminiscence therapy.
  • Storytelling helps you understand yourself better with the way you get connected.
  • It has the potential of healing and is used as a means of intervention for many mental health issues or problems.

Storytelling has a bidirectional benefit – to the narrator/ teller and the listener or client. In a world where many of us are battling with various minor or major mental health concerns, storytelling is one great technique that could help individuals heal through the whole of their mental health issues. It paves the way for growth, healing, learning and empowerment. Storytelling has a profound connection with mental health.

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