Reminiscing Is Good for Mental Health and Aging

We all love to reminisce about memories. Be they from childhood or a recent day out, sharing stories with friends and family is fun. Looking through old photos or listening to music you associate with a place or time can make you feel great. Now, research shows that reminiscing has impactful benefits.

An article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that nostalgia helps us see ourselves more clearly. The report was based on the results of seven studies. Remembering what we did and our motivation strengthens our sense of self and increases the feeling of having a meaningful life.

Additionally, this sense of self helps us cope with stress. “People who are high in nostalgia cope in healthier ways with difficult situations – by expressing their emotions, connecting with other people and being more willing to ask for advice or practical help. With nostalgia, stress can be met with a unified sense of who you are,” said Krystine Batcho, a professor of psychology at Le Moyne College.

Reminiscing can help people with dementia stay connected to themselves, remembering who they were, helps them recall who they are. “Nostalgia significantly increased self-reported social connectedness, meaning in life, self-continuity, optimism, self-esteem and [a] positive affect. Compared to controls, nostalgic participants also recalled significantly more self-referent dementia-related information,” according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

With all that in mind, if you want a better present and a bright tomorrow, look to your past! It’s time to dust off the photo albums and start a sentence with, “Have I ever told you about when…”

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