As people age, many are inclined to withdraw from life over time, losing interest in interacting with others. Studies show, however, that talking about your past may be one of the best defenses against loneliness and depression. In fact, the benefits of retelling a life story are so well documented that many psychologists are coming up with different forms of “reminiscence therapy.” Patients are encouraged to talk about significant events in their lives - perhaps meeting a spouse, visiting another country, or the birth of a child. Whatever the topic, the focus of these reminiscing sessions are to reflect on past events - not just recall them.
In Australia Lynne Parkinson, a noted gerontologist, recently examined the effects of reminiscence therapy in nursing-home residents. In her study, she found that remembering one's past is an effective way to improve psychological well-being. This type of therapy is often more effective than participating in social activities, watching a movie, or spending time with a favorite hobby. Sharing one's story with others has been found to ease feelings of both isolation and depression. Reminiscing sessions include memory sharing, expressing feelings about major life events, recalling childhood stories, gaining awareness of personal accomplishments and identifying the positive aspects of past and present relationships.
When you decide to create a family history, don't assume that the benefits are only to be enjoyed by your children and grand children. Know that the positive effects of going through this process is also bestowed on the storytellers as well.
Whether you hire a company like Surprisingly Good Productions to create your personal family history, or you decide to do it yourself, the advantages of this experience will be shared with every family member who participates. Consider beginning the journey of creating a family history for your loved ones in the upcoming new year. You'll be glad you did. And so will your storyteller.