How nostalgia can boost your health
Rather than a sign that you’re stuck in the past, research shows regular reminiscing can have powerful effects on your health and wellbeing.
The KinCare team had to laugh at a sweet story our customer Ingrid from Victoria sent us recently. “It was Easter and I gave my younger son some money to buy a chocolate Easter bunny. Instead, he returned with a real live rabbit,” she wrote.
Just imagine how many times that heart-warming tale has been told over the years, often with lots of laughter, we expect.
Every family has stories like this that they share through the generations; tales
you tell over and over again to bring back positive memories.
“Sharing our stories is a social activity – and being social is very good for us as we age,”
Now doctors suspect that sharing such stories is not only good at making us happy, but it has lots of other benefits too.
“Sharing stories helps us realise we have lived a good life and made a contribution to the world around us,” explains Dr Celia Harris, Research Fellow in Cognitive Science at Macquarie University in Sydney.
“It also helps you share your wisdom and experience with other members of the family and that has positive effects on them too.”
That means even if your kids or grandkids roll their eyes when you tell the same story for the tenth time; don’t worry about it. The fact that they recall hearing the story is a good thing.
In fact, research has shown that teenagers who grew up knowing family stories like how their parents met, where their grandparents grew up, or struggles their family might
have overcome, had higher levels of self-esteem, more resilience against stress and felt they had more control over their lives than others did.
In addition, trying to recall details of things that happened to you many years ago also helps you mentally, as it gives your long-term memory a workout.
“Sharing our stories is a social activity – and being social is very good for us as we age,” says Dr Harris.
As time goes by you might find some of the details slip a bit – but don’t worry. Just start reminiscing with others, as family members – especially long-term partners – can often help spark your memories.
“Using external cues like photographs or playing music from the time period can also help you remember things,” says Dr Harris.
It’s not just stories that are good to share – traditions passed down through the years also help create a sense of belonging and positive self-image.
“Sharing stories helps us realise we have lived a good life and made a contribution to the world around us,”
So, remember, the next time you take a stroll down memory lane, embrace it wholeheartedly, as it’s likely doing you good.
Why not dig out those old family recipes and make a cake you used to love back in the day, or plan a family day trip somewhere you often went with your children and bring back those good times right now!