The benefits of nostalgia for your well-being

September 11th, 2018

Written by Katy Winship

Feeling nostalgic is a state that we are very fond of being in within the walls of our offices here at ACS. On average, people engage in it about once a week. However, I think we exceed this amount- and amongst my team mates the phrase “do you remember…?” is uttered daily, especially now that we have just celebrated a decade in business. So, the good news I recently discovered (for us at least) is that a healthy dash of nostalgia can be very beneficial...

We’re all guilty of Nostalgia...

When you think about it, most people you know will regularly do some sort of activity that involves them looking to the past. Whether it’s whiling away hours re-watching old films from our childhoods, listening to certain songs to evoke memories or flicking through old photos, we all are guilty in a bit of self-indulgent nostalgia.

And with the ever-growing market for this - think adult ball pools, the popularity of vintage fairs, everything that is on sale in Urban Outfitters (the worst of the 90’s - scrunchies and poppers?!) and the resurgence of vinyl – many of us are embracing nostalgia and re-living our youth. And if you aren’t, you soon will be.

Here’s why you should be looking back to the past:

It makes us feel good

Erica Hepper, Ph.D., a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Surrey suggests that “nostalgia is the warm, fuzzy emotion that we feel when we think about fond memories from our past.”

It’s useful

In a 2012 study published in the journal Memory by Professor Clay Routledge it was claimed that nostalgia helps people relate their past experiences to their present lives. Nostalgia helps us to make greater meaning of it all (and by “all” I mean life) and reflecting on it can be a great way of seeing sense and giving ourselves advice for the future.

Think about it. As the wise man Baz Luhrmann sang (?) “Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

Get nostalgic by.... Smelling a familiar scent

Nothing takes me back to the 90’s more than getting the faint whiff of Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers perfume- mainly because my mum used to wear it. When I smell it I’m immediately transported back to hazy yellow school days, like a flashback scene in a film to happier times.
Common nostalgic scents we have identified here in the office are the smell of text books, bubble gum, freshly cut grass, Lynx Africa and Play Doh.

...Eating something you used to love

Remember your favourite sweets when you were seven that you and your best friend saved all of your pocket money for? Remember the taste of the pudding that your grandmother would bake? Remember playing with your dinner and spelling your name in your spaghetti? The answer is most probably yes to all of these and if not then there will probably be something else that you crave the taste of that evokes similar memories.
I will forever remember organising my Smarties and eating them in colour order and so does my oldest friend Nina! They say that food brings people together and I say it’s true.

...Looking at old photos and mementos

I suggest doing this as a group activity because when you share these memories with your friends and family it brings a bond and sparks memories you had forgotten about - you’ll end up laughing at how you went to great lengths to achieve those Brownies and Scout’s Badges!

Visit a place you used to know

Re-living old memories with old friends can bring contentment. For example, imagine eating fish and chips at the seaside fair with your pals.This will take you back to childhood and fill Connecting to your past through nostalgia is widely thought of as a useful tool in helping us to connect with the present. It is even recognised as a powerful tool in the battle against anxiety and depression. We are happier and more confident and have even been found to have higher self-esteem when we connect to the past.

Life is more meaningful when we are nostalgic. When we are nostalgic we feel a closer bond to our loved ones when we reminisce- this can only be a good thing…. Right??!