Nostalgia: A Natural Anti-Depressant

Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz clicking her red ruby slippers repeating, “There’s no place like home” wishing to be transported back to that little farm house in Kansas.  What is it about remembering past times that gives us warm, happy feelings?  How many of you experience nostalgic memories on a regular basis?  The music, the feeling of a place, memories of good friends?  What makes these memories better than the memory of the root canal you had last week?

Nostalgia is beneficial for several reasons.  It can brighten a difficult day, especially if you are having a bad day.  Nostalgia makes life more bearable.  It also supports feelings of belonging and social connection, ridding yourself of feelings of loneliness and depression.  Previous research viewed the idea of nostalgia as negative because researchers believed nostalgic people to live in the past.  No more!  Today research shows that nostalgia is beneficial.  It helps people maintain a sense of identity, to look back at our values and priorities to do a check on where we are today.  Nostalgia provides a sense of stability in our ever changing worlds.

Have you noticed that nostalgia and the act of reminiscing especially with loved ones who experience memory loss is comforting?  It all makes sense, reminiscing is good for everyone.  If you are a spousal caregiver, reminisce about your first meeting, your first date, the day you married and other happy events of your life.  Doing so will return a sense of love and appreciation, beneficial in stressful caregiving situations that may seem to have no end.  Sort through old photographs together.  Express appreciation for the good times.

According to an article published in Psychology Today, naturally nostalgic people have high self esteem and are less prone to depression.  They cope with problems more effectively and are more likely than not to receive social support after experiencing stress.  Imagine this, thinking of good memories for just twenty minutes a day can make you more cheerful than you were the week before according to researchers at Loyola University.

How can you make nostalgia a regular part of your life?

  • Start a scrapbook, pull together old photos and catalog them
  • If you are computer savvy, start a blog and post photos and personal stories
  • Find mementos from the past and write stories
  • Dig out all those old photos with no names on the back and update them so your family will know who these people are when you are gone
  • Go back through grade school and high school photos and see if you remember your classmates
  • Try to reconnect with friends and family with whom you’ve lost touch
  • Begin doing genealogy research to connect family generations and share this information with your family

Lighten your load by making reminiscing and every day activity.  Bring good memories into your life.  Rid yourself of the days when you’re feeling blue by thinking of past times that were happy and sharing these memories with loved ones.

References:

1) http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200605/nostalgia-sweet-remembrance

2) Loyola University Medical Center, http://www.loyolamedicine.org/

©  2012, 2013 Pamela D. Wilson.  All rights reserved.

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