Recently, the benefits of nostalgia have been acknowledged. Experts used to warn against living in the past, but new studies show that memories have positive effects on coping skills and mood. There are constructive ways to go back and honor the nostalgic moments of your life.
Major Benefits of Nostalgia
- Feel more connected. The University of Southampton in England is one of the leaders in documenting the impact of nostalgia. Among their findings, they suggest that collective memories make us feel a sense of belonging. Nostalgia gives us our roots and helps us empathize.
- Understand yourself better. Looking back also creates more continuity in our lives. We learn how our background influences us today.
- Discover deeper meaning in your life. Naturally, we tend to focus on important times and people. This makes it easier to see our overall direction and purpose.
- Increase your self-confidence. Those who regularly indulge in nostalgia also report greater self-esteem. This is a great opportunity to reflect on your accomplishments and witness how you thrive through adversity.
- Boost your mood. Recalling good times is an instant mood booster.
- Strengthen your coping skills. There are also practical advantages to looking back. If you tend to be nostalgic, you may also demonstrate greater resiliency.
Suggestions for Going Back in Time
- Go online. Ironically, modern technology makes it easier to access our history. You’re only a few keystrokes away from viewing classic TV shows or ordering the movie candy you grew up eating.
- Reminisce with others. Reach out to family and friends. Relive the memories of high school by looking through an old yearbook with your sister or best friend.
- View past experiences as enriching. If yesterday looks better than today, you may be troubled by a sense of loss. Put things in perspective by focusing on how everything comes together to make you who you are.
- Accept good times at face value. Go ahead and glamourize your first car. Your coming of age counts for more than any rust spots.
- Process complex events. Even if there were some troubles in your childhood or your first marriage ended, look on the bright side. There will probably still be fond memories you can look back on.
- Monitor your mood and reactions. It’s natural to become nostalgic when you feel sad or lonely. Realize that you can access old memories anytime, regardless of your mood.
- Take pictures. Collect and display photos of the things and people you love. Update your computer wallpaper with a photo from your latest vacation.
- Listen to music. Songs provide a powerful connection to our memories. Have you ever heard a certain song on the radio and been immediately transported back in time? Share your favorite childhood songs with your own children.
- Play with toys. Get your childhood toys out of the attic and bring them downstairs for a reunion. If you no longer own your favorite old board game, look for it at garage sales or shop for it online.
- Give the present and future ample attention. Even as you take a trip down memory lane, it’s still important to attend to what’s currently going on in your life and prepare for your future. Keep a healthy balance when thinking about the past, present, and future.
Advertisers often invoke the past because they know it sells everything from refrigerators to shampoo. Put nostalgia to work for you. Memories can provide meaningful connections, lift your spirits, and strengthen your relationships.