Are You Feeling Nostalgic These Days?

How are you?

How are things in your corner of the world?

I hope that wherever you are and whoever you are with you are healthy and doing what you can to care for yourself.

After all the turbulence last week related to the coronavirus outbreak, I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted when the weekend arrived. On Saturday and Sunday, I found myself craving breakfast for every meal and watching lots of classic TV shows. In two days, I binge watched two seasons of “The Waltons” and ate my share of fried eggs and bacon. By Sunday evening, I actually felt more calm, content and a few pounds heavier!

On Monday morning I went into my office, refreshed and focused, and ready to start a new day and a new week. I opened my email and, as I expected, my Inbox was full of messages waiting for me. One message immediately grabbed my attention. The subject line of the email read: “Are You Feeling Nostalgic These Days?”

I was struck by the question. So, I opened the message…and read it…and by the end of the message…I had an “Ah Ha!” moment. I realized that I HAVE been feeling nostalgic these days. I was nostalgic all weekend. Every time I fried eggs and bacon and watched another episode of “The Waltons” I was feeling nostalgic.

Nostalgia is that warm, fuzzy feeling you have when you think about fond memories from your past.

Sometimes the trigger for nostalgia can be a song, photo, scent, story or person. For me, the smell of fried eggs and bacon takes me back to my childhood and waking up in the morning to the aroma of breakfast being cooked by my mother. The smell reminds me of a time in my past when life was carefree and simple.

“The Waltons” was one of the few shows we watched as a family on one of the few television stations we could get living on the farm. Watching the show this past weekend not only reminded me of the similarities between the Walton family and my family, but also of the values I was raised on, the hard work ethic I was taught and the “we’re in this together” mindset we lived by.

Little did I know, until my “Ah Ha!” moment on Monday morning, that my body, soul and spirit was in dire need of nostalgia this past weekend.

We are living in a time of change and instability right now. Nostalgia can actually be a stabilizing force for us. Studies have shown that people with a greater propensity for nostalgia are better able to cope with adversity and are more likely to seek emotional support, advice and practical help from others. It’s shown to boost a person’s mood, reduce stress, increase feelings of social connectedness to others and offer optimism about the future. Research shows nostalgia makes people feel loved and valued and increases perceptions of social support when people are lonely.

Falling back on our store of happy memories can be one of the best things we can do for ourselves right now. It’s one way to endure the change that is happening and create hope for the future. It may be just the thing to give us all a welcomed fresh perspective on our current situation.

There are many ways you can use nostalgia to keep you motivated, uplifted, connected and hopeful. Here are some things you can consider doing:

1. Let your past recharge you. Recall personal milestones and past achievements in order to reinvigorate your energy and stay focused on achieving your current goals. Dig out your medals, trophies, diplomas, news clippings or other memorabilia to remind yourself that you are a capable and talented individual.

2. Make nostalgia a group activity. Asking others to share their nostalgic memories with you is likely to give you all a psychological boost. You might be surprised what you learn about your friends or family members. Ask open-ended questions to initiate sharing, such as, “What kinds of clothes, hobbies or slang terms were popular when you were a teenager? What was your favorite thing about school? Who was your favorite teacher? What was your favorite book or movie when you were young?”

3. Get in touch with loved ones from all stages of your life. Reaching out and connecting with friends can bring back fond memories and ignite fun (and maybe embarrassing) storytelling!

4. Spend time looking at old photos or home movies. Have story time with your family using photos. Do you have idle time? Create a photo scrapbook. Or, turn off the TV and watch home movies instead!

5. Let music stir up happy feelings. Turn on your favorite music from the past and have a dance party with yourself or others!

6. Create a scent that takes you back to the past. Are you craving the smell of your Grandma’s baked cookies? Then, bake them! Spend time in the kitchen preparing recipes you enjoyed from past family traditions.

7. Play board or card games you enjoyed when you were younger. Many classic games can be purchased online. Looking for a list of games to help jog your memory? Click here for a list of some of the most popular games! (By the way, playing the card game, UNO, with my competitive and ornery grandmother, and all the laughter that would go with it is something I always re-live when I still play the game today!)

8. Watch your favorite TV show from your childhood. Was there a TV show you couldn’t miss watching? Was it a show that brought you together with friends or family? Click here for a list of the most popular TV shows from 1950-1990! Browse Netflix, YouTube or other streaming sites and find your favorite show(s). Make some popcorn, grab your favorite beverage, settle into something comfortable and enjoy!

9. Create new memories by making deposits into the nostalgia bank today that you can draw on when you need a boost in the future. What happens today will become the memories you hold onto forever. What can you do today that will create positive, lasting nostalgic memories for you or your family? Be creative and imaginative.

If you find yourself feeling nostalgic these days and wishing you could recapture a moment and feeling from your past, give in. It may give you the boost you need to deal with your current challenges or to simply feel better — not just about your past or present, but also about your future.

Take care of yourself. You are important. You are needed.

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