Oprah.com   February 2018

Summary

Sharing a personal story is similar to a group therapy session. The teller is reducing her psychological burden AND the listeners can have a physically healing experience.

According to Nancy Morgan, writing clinician and director emeritus of the arts and humanities program at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., “You share your story; the audience responds; everyone feels a sense of connection, of being understood. … That process causes cognitive changes in the brain that tell your body ‘Relax, you’re good.'” Research has shown that a reduction of tension or stress can improve sleep and lower both blood pressure and heart rate.

Sharing personal stories can also build community.

Paul Zak, PhD, a neuroeconomist at Claremont Graduate University in California who studies the brain basis of human connection, states that listening to  great stories, ones that get you interested and make you care, sets off a sequence healthy events in the brain and body.

Karen “Queen Nur” Abdul-Malik, 60, a former president of the National Association of Black Storytellers, says jaliya, the West African form of storytelling, can create these same types of healthy effects.