Health Benefits of Storytelling and Making Light
Jan 31, 2017 12:39PM
by Susan CotiThe best speakers always seem to begin with a tale, an anecdote or personal connection to the topic at hand, and these stories are what people remember the most. These stories stimulate a shared vision, a shared emotional response and almost seem to bypass the brain and go straight to the heart. Of course, it is the brain that processes the words of the story, but a good story, told well, can bring both the teller and the listener to deep states of calmness and serenity.
Indeed, neurological research suggests that telling or listening to a story activates the limbic system to pump dopamine into the cortex of the brain, which, in turn, leads to a mellow, mildly euphoric state of mind. Blood pressure drops, relaxation kicks in and the mind and body drift together to a place of peace and tranquility. The listener is in “the zone,” similar to what’s described as runners’ high or that state of acute focus—an almost out of body experience.
Once a powerful story is heard, its benefits can be replicated time and time again. A hearty laugh, connection to the distant past, a soft ache that mends at the conclusion of a tale are all benefits that soothe the soul, fulfill the heart and calm the physical body, a mind-body connection that invites community and peace. As Kate DiCamillo notes, “Tell a story. Make some light.”
Susan Coti is a professional storyteller who performs for adults and families in the D.C. region and conducts workshops in the art of storytelling. She can be reached at I Hear Voices by emailing [email protected]