Stories Connect Us
Storytelling is an inherently social practice, one that fosters intimacy and connection with others.
Research has consistently shown that relationships are good for us and social isolation is bad clearly linked to earlier cognitive and physical decline and increased mortality.
Research on the mortality risk of loneliness suggests it is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and commensurate with other well-established health risk factors, such as inactivity, obesity, substance abuse, and mental illness.
When it comes to illness, support groups have been proven to improve mental health, physical symptoms, and quality of life.
When people with chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure listen to stories told by others living with and managing these conditions, they do better exercise more, eat a healthier diet, communicate more with their doctors, and even have better blood pressure numbers.
Recently, researchers have demonstrated that storytelling can make hospitalized kids feel better. Young children in the intensive care unit who heard stories for 30 minutes had higher levels of oxytocin, a hormone linked to empathy and social connectedness, and lower levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, compared to a group who played a riddle game for 30 minutes.
The storytelling kids also described their hospital experiences more positively, and reported lower levels of pain.
By sharing and receiving stories, we can help ourselves and others; we can build and strengthen relationships; we can move closer to self-acceptance and self-love.
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