It doesn’t take much to begin feeling nostalgic: listening to an old song on the radio, seeing your childhood home, eating an old family recipe.
This feeling of wistfulness, of longing for the past—commonly known as nostalgia—is not unusual. And while it is often bittersweet, nostalgia can be a positive experience for those who learn how to make the most of it.
Why People Feel Nostalgic
Nostalgia is a universal human emotion; everyone will feel it at some point and likely more than once. Nostalgia is typically triggered by things such as songs, smells, photographs, and even loneliness.
Some people are more prone to feeling nostalgic than others, such as chronic worriers, who may see reminiscing as an escape from present anxiety. Those undergoing a life transition, such as people in their 20s and people over 50, also report feeling more nostalgia. During major life transitions, people often find themselves asking “Where am I going?” and “Where have I been?” That kind of reflection is ripe for nostalgia!
The Benefits of Nostalgia
Up until the last hundred years, nostalgia was considered negative experience—even a psychiatric disorder by some doctors. However, now scientists recognize the benefit of feeling nostalgic. Here are just a few reasons why nostalgia now and then can have a positive effect on your life.
Cope with Negativity
Nostalgia is shown to help people cope with negativity and help them self-soothe when feeling anxious. By recalling special, positive memories of the past, people can better deal with current problems.
Develop Greater Self-Continuity
One study found that nostalgia can also help people gain greater self-continuity. When nostalgically reminiscing, people can feel more connected with their past and can recognize a consistency in their personality over time.
Feel More Socially Connected
The same study also found that nostalgia helped people feel more socially connected. According to Scientific American, “Sentimental recollections often include loved ones, which can remind us of a social web that extends across people—and across time.”
A Healthy Way to Reminisce
One way to make the most of nostalgia is by reflecting on and recording the memories you cherish. Not only will you be able to reap the benefits of nostalgia better, but recording the past will also give you peace of mind in knowing that experiences are preserved!
Record Your Memories
At FamilySearch, we offer a free, secure, and permanent place for you to store your memories.
All you have to do is go to the FamilySearch Discovery page, and select Record My Story from the options. On this page, you can choose from a selection of categories and questions that prompt you to record your experiences (though you can also record your memories independent of these prompts). You are given the option either to record audio or type your responses.
When you have finished, these responses will be saved on your My Storiespage and on your FamilySearch Memories page.
Preserve Important Photographs
If you find yourself feeling nostalgic as you look at old photographs, don’t forget to preserve those too!
Also consider taking photos of your childhood home, your favorite place in nature, your close friends and family—anything that you will want to remember and preserve. Not only can you upload these images to FamilySearch Memories, but at FamilySearch.org, you can record an audio description of the photograph or an audio clip of you reminiscing and have it automatically attach to the photo you are uploading.