Nostalgia for Mental Health


Okay, so I'm writing this after reading the latest issue of 'in the moment' magazine, if you haven't read this magazine before I definitely recommend it - it's a great read for all things mindfulness and wellbeing related. Briefly mentioned was this idea of nostalgia as a way of finding inner strength and it got me thinking.

I feel we often associate nostalgia as leading to negative emotions like longing or regret in the present moment, but the idea of drawing upon nostalgic feelings to find inner strength is one I continue to practise in my day to day life and I'm finding to very beneficial for my mental health, casting the emotions of longing or regret aside in favour of feeling happy and proud. In terms of tackling anxiety, it helps a lot.

I've often found at points in my life I've carried around this huge sense of longing for who I used to be, but the idea of using the feeling of nostalgia mindfully can really help in terms of bettering the present moment in which we live.

Tapping into a feeling of nostalgia, whilst it can make us feel a bit melancholy for times gone by, it can also serve as a reminder of our former selves. A reminder of our strengths. It can reconnect us with who we are when we're feeling a bit lost.

Recently, I was feeling a bit down, so I popped on A Cinderella Story, a movie I loved as a child, and this took me to a happier place. What I needed at that time was escapism and I found it through the warm, happy feeling I got whilst watching this.

Music can also be good for this, it can transport us. My go to songs for this are Jimmy Eat World Hear You Me and Panic At the disco Northern Downpour. They remind me of more peaceful times, or times where I felt more peaceful within myself. The feeling I get when I listened to Jimmy Eat World is complete nostalgia for a time when the world was this big exciting place and I had my whole life ahead of me. I then began to feel that way in the present. I can now draw upon these feelings and completely change my mindset in three minutes by mindfully listening to this song. (Of course, you don't want to overdo it, but that's besides the point)

Nostalgia can also be great for anxiety. You can draw upon a time where you felt calmer, and ease the mind in doing so, finding strength in knowing that a) the feeling will pass and b) you've managed to do x, y and z in the past.

For example:
I felt too anxious to go into town, I listened to the same music I used to when going to town felt easy. In doing so, I managed to find the confidence I'd felt in the past and going to town became a lot easier. By making these past connections to the present you can really begin to tackle anxiety as being just another human emotion.

I hope this post inspires you next time you're feeling down, or too anxious to go through with something you know would be beneficial for you - tap into some nostalgia and remember who you are.

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