Mental Health Benefits of Nostalgia

The holiday season can bring a whirlwind of emotions – both good and bad. A lot of memories arise during the holidays and framing those memories can help your mental health. 

Holiday activities and traditions often bring feelings of nostalgia – a yearning for the past. As families and friends gather together to reconnect, it’s easy to reminisce about past holiday seasons. There may be memories of celebrating the season with people who have since passed away. The holiday season may also make you think about the carefree nature of the holidays when you were a child. All these different instances lead to feelings of nostalgia.  

While many people may think that feeling nostalgic during the holiday season can lead to feelings of sadness, there are mental health benefits that can help carry you forward. Nostalgia can make you feel comforted if you are feeling lonely, grounded if you are feeling overwhelmed or act as a distraction if you are feeling stressed.  

A mood boost

Looking at old photographs, watching a home video from your childhood, or connecting with an old friend to talk about memories can act as an escape from whatever stress or anxiety that you may be feeling. Nostalgia can bring feelings of happiness and boost your mood which can help your mental health.  

The holiday season can be tough on your mental health. As you balance the regular demands of everyday life with the expectations and obligations of family and friends, it’s easy for stress levels to increase and make any existing anxiety or depression more difficult to manage. This is why it is essential to find ways to prioritize your mental health.  

If it feels right, try engaging in something nostalgic and familiar as a form of self-care. Maybe it’s baking a favorite treat, listening to a favorite song or dusting off an old tradition.  

Helps ease transitions

Maybe you are celebrating the holidays in a new city or maybe it is the first holiday season without a loved one. Transitions in life can make the holiday season more difficult to manage and this can take a toll on your mental health.  

Indulging in nostalgia can help if you are feeling lonely because it can help you feel grounded in your past and connected to a community of people. Thinking of past holiday memories can be comforting and encourage you to make new memories this holiday season.  

It can also remind you of how much happiness you have experienced in life, or it may help strengthen you by remembering how much you have concurred and survived difficult times.  

Nostalgia is often considered dwelling in the past, but sometimes feeling nostalgic is exactly what you need and it can positively impact your mental health during the holidays.  

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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