Tapping into a Little Nostalgia

While it’s always fun going down memory lane, you’re probably finding yourself reminiscing about the past and the “good times” a lot more than usual lately. 

Whether it be 10, 5, or even just one year ago, nostalgia and thinking about good things that have happened to you in the past can have a positive effect, including on your mood and even possibly on your mental health. Studies have even found that when people look back on old memories, they’re not just reminiscing about the event themselves, but they can feel proud of themselves for seeing what important parts of their personality stuck through with them, or they might feel pride in seeing how far they’ve come.

It can be really easy to stay stuck in memory lane however, especially now. Nostalgia, while having a positive effect on your mood, is ultimately bittersweet, and getting too caught up in old memories can have you stick in that “bitter” side. You might be frustrated that you can no longer do certain activities, or you might be regretful that you didn’t say or do something during that time. At the very least, you might find yourself getting sad and experiencing a sense of loss. Like most things, you want to find a balance when looking back at fond memories.

So while it’s impossible to recreate the events in the past that created those happy memories for you, you can still use nostalgia as a tool to help elevate your mood when you find yourself feeling down. Some of those reasons are obvious: you might have been in an entirely different state or country, or you are too old to do something you did when you were a child.

However, keeping something nearby to remind yourself of things that make you happy may help spark those memories, and you might even find ways of recreating them in a new way. You can change the background of your phone and/or your computer to a place you really enjoyed visiting, or you can keep a physical object like a concert ticket in a clear case on your phone. To recreate the feelings of the former, you can watch a movie that has the same or similar setting of that place, and with the latter, you can see if the artist whose concert you attended has any recordings online and watch it virtually with the friends you attended the concert with (in fact, many artists have been giving “quarantine performances” lately). 

Whatever memories make you happy, we hope that you can explore them in a way that makes you happy, and we hope that you can even find a way to mimic them in some way today!

What are some of your favorite memories? How do you feel when you look back on them? Do you consider yourself a nostalgic person?

Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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