Longing for the past can improve your health in a number of surprising ways
“Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety,” John Tierney wrote in a recent New York Times article. “It makes people more generous to strangers and tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories.” It may even make you literally warmer: feelings of nostalgia are more common on cold days, and people in cool rooms are more likely to reminisce than those in warmer ones, research shows. Why? It might be evolutionary: “If you can recruit a memory to maintain physiological comfort, it could contribute to survival by making you look for food and shelter that much longer,” researcher, Dr Tim Wildschut, told the Times. Here’s how to leverage your happy thoughts and warm memories to make yourself healthier.
Carve out time for reminiscing
Some 79 per cent of people naturally experience nostalgia at least once a week, research indicates, but you don’t have to wait for a chance memory to pop into your mind. Loyola University researchers discovered that thinking of good memories for just 20 minutes a day can make people more cheerful than they felt the week before, reported Psychology Today.
Don’t write down your memories
To reap the full benefits of nostalgia, it seems better to replay happy thoughts in your mind rather than in a journal. When researchers at the University of California at Riverside asked people to either think about or write down a blissful life experience, those who simply thought about it experienced a greater boost in wellbeing, according to Psychology Today. “There’s a magic and mystery in positive events,” study author and psychologist, Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky, told the magazine. Analysing the details – by writing them down – may remove some of that wonder.