Let the Power of Memories Boost Your Mood

Reviewed Jul 25, 2017

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

Reflecting on positive memories can boost your mood. Use all your senses to evoke good feelings from the past. 

We receive mixed messages about the past. We’re told to move on, to live in the moment, to avoid nostalgia. In fact, the dictionary equates nostalgia with being homesick. And certain sights, sounds, and smells can make us melancholy for the passage of time and those we’ve left behind.

But there’s a flipside to memories, a power to claiming our past that can’t be ignored. Studies show that reflecting on positive memories can boost our mood and give us a break from the regular grind of life. They can also nurture a sense of belonging and accomplishment. The trick is to create the time and space to recall positive experiences and let yourself relax into the memory.

Memories, good and bad, will always come to us unbidden at random moments––while we’re driving down the road or walking the dog. But there are ways you can invite memory back into your life. First, use all your senses to evoke good feelings from the past.

Sights

Nothing starts the memory train rolling more than settling in with old photos, scrapbooks, or home movies. You can also use old movies, TV shows, or favorite books to open the door to the past. Some tips:

  • Invite a friend or relative to spend an hour or two looking over old photographs.
  • If you’re alone, take the time to set the mood with the appropriate music, food, or scented candles. Treat the romp down memory lane as a special occasion.
  • Scan an old photograph and send it to a friend—it will create instant good feelings and start a whole new conversation thread.
  • Be prepared for the mixed feelings that may come and counter them by expressing appreciation and gratitude for the people you have known and the experiences you have had. 

If you really want to tap into the past, take a day or two and visit your childhood home, school, vacation spot, or other significant venue. Expect a certain amount of wistfulness and nostalgia, maybe even tears. Such returns to youth can be an important landmark in your life, providing a cleansing, a reconnection with your foundation, and a launching point for moving on to the next phase of your life.

Some people find it best to share such an experience with a loved one; other people need to go it alone. Whatever your choice, own the sense of connection to your past, express gratitude for the good moments and people in your life, and gain strength from knowing that you survived any struggles. Then return to the present refreshed and invigorated.  

Sounds

Certain sounds, especially music, are powerful memory stimulants—the crashing of waves, the rumble of a marching band, an old song from days gone by. Get together with old friends or people your age and dance to music from your era. If the sound of the woods or the ocean brings back memories of happy days, listen to a recording of those sounds when you need to unwind. 

Smell, taste, and touch

Just as a memory of a bad taste, touch, or smell has the power to make us physically ill, the memory of a good taste, touch, or smell can bring us much pleasure and comfort. It’s well known, for instance, that nothing can take you back faster than a smell you associate with a memory: the aroma of cinnamon coffee cake baking, the whiff of cologne from a passing stranger, etc.

Taste and touch function much the same way—biting into a hotdog at a baseball game, feeling a baby’s cheek pressed against yours. Treat yourself to these simple pleasures and savor each taste, touch or smell sensation. If homemade bread brings back great memories, bake a loaf and let the aroma fill the house and lift your mood. Invite a friend over to share the experience. The point is to regularly find ways to incorporate more of these positive memories into your life. 

Stay connected

Remember the old Girl Scout saying: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” It’s so true. You can always make a new friend but you can never get another “old” friend. Cherish these people and make an effort to keep in touch, even if it’s only a card once a year. Everyone will benefit from the strong sense of connection and intimacy that comes from sharing memories.

Write it down

If you feel stuck or are running out of ideas, start jotting down memories. You’ll find yourself getting reinvolved and re-excited about past triumphs and successes. In fact, you’ll find you’ve accomplished more than you thought. A personal memoir is also a lovely keepsake to pass on to friends and relatives. 

Return the favor

How many of us yawn and run for the hills when Grandpa starts telling his war story one more time? Try showing these folks a little sympathy and patience. More and more “reminiscence therapy” is being used with the elderly to lessen depression and feelings of isolation, especially those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ask an older friend or relative to show you old photographs and share stories. Don’t worry that you’re going to make him feel sad; chances are you’re giving him a great opportunity to feel good and vital again.

By Amy Fries
Source: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives by Jan Yager, PhD, Hannacroix Creek Books, 1997; “Sweet Remembrance: Feeling Blue? Try a Shot of Nostalgia” by Marina Krakovsky, Psychology Today, May/June 2006; “Life Review and Reminiscence Therapy,” www.growthhouse.org/lifereview.html

Summary

Reflecting on positive memories can boost your mood. Use all your senses to evoke good feelings from the past. 

We receive mixed messages about the past. We’re told to move on, to live in the moment, to avoid nostalgia. In fact, the dictionary equates nostalgia with being homesick. And certain sights, sounds, and smells can make us melancholy for the passage of time and those we’ve left behind.

But there’s a flipside to memories, a power to claiming our past that can’t be ignored. Studies show that reflecting on positive memories can boost our mood and give us a break from the regular grind of life. They can also nurture a sense of belonging and accomplishment. The trick is to create the time and space to recall positive experiences and let yourself relax into the memory.

Memories, good and bad, will always come to us unbidden at random moments––while we’re driving down the road or walking the dog. But there are ways you can invite memory back into your life. First, use all your senses to evoke good feelings from the past.

Sights

Nothing starts the memory train rolling more than settling in with old photos, scrapbooks, or home movies. You can also use old movies, TV shows, or favorite books to open the door to the past. Some tips:

  • Invite a friend or relative to spend an hour or two looking over old photographs.
  • If you’re alone, take the time to set the mood with the appropriate music, food, or scented candles. Treat the romp down memory lane as a special occasion.
  • Scan an old photograph and send it to a friend—it will create instant good feelings and start a whole new conversation thread.
  • Be prepared for the mixed feelings that may come and counter them by expressing appreciation and gratitude for the people you have known and the experiences you have had. 

If you really want to tap into the past, take a day or two and visit your childhood home, school, vacation spot, or other significant venue. Expect a certain amount of wistfulness and nostalgia, maybe even tears. Such returns to youth can be an important landmark in your life, providing a cleansing, a reconnection with your foundation, and a launching point for moving on to the next phase of your life.

Some people find it best to share such an experience with a loved one; other people need to go it alone. Whatever your choice, own the sense of connection to your past, express gratitude for the good moments and people in your life, and gain strength from knowing that you survived any struggles. Then return to the present refreshed and invigorated.  

Sounds

Certain sounds, especially music, are powerful memory stimulants—the crashing of waves, the rumble of a marching band, an old song from days gone by. Get together with old friends or people your age and dance to music from your era. If the sound of the woods or the ocean brings back memories of happy days, listen to a recording of those sounds when you need to unwind. 

Smell, taste, and touch

Just as a memory of a bad taste, touch, or smell has the power to make us physically ill, the memory of a good taste, touch, or smell can bring us much pleasure and comfort. It’s well known, for instance, that nothing can take you back faster than a smell you associate with a memory: the aroma of cinnamon coffee cake baking, the whiff of cologne from a passing stranger, etc.

Taste and touch function much the same way—biting into a hotdog at a baseball game, feeling a baby’s cheek pressed against yours. Treat yourself to these simple pleasures and savor each taste, touch or smell sensation. If homemade bread brings back great memories, bake a loaf and let the aroma fill the house and lift your mood. Invite a friend over to share the experience. The point is to regularly find ways to incorporate more of these positive memories into your life. 

Stay connected

Remember the old Girl Scout saying: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” It’s so true. You can always make a new friend but you can never get another “old” friend. Cherish these people and make an effort to keep in touch, even if it’s only a card once a year. Everyone will benefit from the strong sense of connection and intimacy that comes from sharing memories.

Write it down

If you feel stuck or are running out of ideas, start jotting down memories. You’ll find yourself getting reinvolved and re-excited about past triumphs and successes. In fact, you’ll find you’ve accomplished more than you thought. A personal memoir is also a lovely keepsake to pass on to friends and relatives. 

Return the favor

How many of us yawn and run for the hills when Grandpa starts telling his war story one more time? Try showing these folks a little sympathy and patience. More and more “reminiscence therapy” is being used with the elderly to lessen depression and feelings of isolation, especially those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ask an older friend or relative to show you old photographs and share stories. Don’t worry that you’re going to make him feel sad; chances are you’re giving him a great opportunity to feel good and vital again.

By Amy Fries
Source: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives by Jan Yager, PhD, Hannacroix Creek Books, 1997; “Sweet Remembrance: Feeling Blue? Try a Shot of Nostalgia” by Marina Krakovsky, Psychology Today, May/June 2006; “Life Review and Reminiscence Therapy,” www.growthhouse.org/lifereview.html

Summary

Reflecting on positive memories can boost your mood. Use all your senses to evoke good feelings from the past. 

We receive mixed messages about the past. We’re told to move on, to live in the moment, to avoid nostalgia. In fact, the dictionary equates nostalgia with being homesick. And certain sights, sounds, and smells can make us melancholy for the passage of time and those we’ve left behind.

But there’s a flipside to memories, a power to claiming our past that can’t be ignored. Studies show that reflecting on positive memories can boost our mood and give us a break from the regular grind of life. They can also nurture a sense of belonging and accomplishment. The trick is to create the time and space to recall positive experiences and let yourself relax into the memory.

Memories, good and bad, will always come to us unbidden at random moments––while we’re driving down the road or walking the dog. But there are ways you can invite memory back into your life. First, use all your senses to evoke good feelings from the past.

Sights

Nothing starts the memory train rolling more than settling in with old photos, scrapbooks, or home movies. You can also use old movies, TV shows, or favorite books to open the door to the past. Some tips:

  • Invite a friend or relative to spend an hour or two looking over old photographs.
  • If you’re alone, take the time to set the mood with the appropriate music, food, or scented candles. Treat the romp down memory lane as a special occasion.
  • Scan an old photograph and send it to a friend—it will create instant good feelings and start a whole new conversation thread.
  • Be prepared for the mixed feelings that may come and counter them by expressing appreciation and gratitude for the people you have known and the experiences you have had. 

If you really want to tap into the past, take a day or two and visit your childhood home, school, vacation spot, or other significant venue. Expect a certain amount of wistfulness and nostalgia, maybe even tears. Such returns to youth can be an important landmark in your life, providing a cleansing, a reconnection with your foundation, and a launching point for moving on to the next phase of your life.

Some people find it best to share such an experience with a loved one; other people need to go it alone. Whatever your choice, own the sense of connection to your past, express gratitude for the good moments and people in your life, and gain strength from knowing that you survived any struggles. Then return to the present refreshed and invigorated.  

Sounds

Certain sounds, especially music, are powerful memory stimulants—the crashing of waves, the rumble of a marching band, an old song from days gone by. Get together with old friends or people your age and dance to music from your era. If the sound of the woods or the ocean brings back memories of happy days, listen to a recording of those sounds when you need to unwind. 

Smell, taste, and touch

Just as a memory of a bad taste, touch, or smell has the power to make us physically ill, the memory of a good taste, touch, or smell can bring us much pleasure and comfort. It’s well known, for instance, that nothing can take you back faster than a smell you associate with a memory: the aroma of cinnamon coffee cake baking, the whiff of cologne from a passing stranger, etc.

Taste and touch function much the same way—biting into a hotdog at a baseball game, feeling a baby’s cheek pressed against yours. Treat yourself to these simple pleasures and savor each taste, touch or smell sensation. If homemade bread brings back great memories, bake a loaf and let the aroma fill the house and lift your mood. Invite a friend over to share the experience. The point is to regularly find ways to incorporate more of these positive memories into your life. 

Stay connected

Remember the old Girl Scout saying: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” It’s so true. You can always make a new friend but you can never get another “old” friend. Cherish these people and make an effort to keep in touch, even if it’s only a card once a year. Everyone will benefit from the strong sense of connection and intimacy that comes from sharing memories.

Write it down

If you feel stuck or are running out of ideas, start jotting down memories. You’ll find yourself getting reinvolved and re-excited about past triumphs and successes. In fact, you’ll find you’ve accomplished more than you thought. A personal memoir is also a lovely keepsake to pass on to friends and relatives. 

Return the favor

How many of us yawn and run for the hills when Grandpa starts telling his war story one more time? Try showing these folks a little sympathy and patience. More and more “reminiscence therapy” is being used with the elderly to lessen depression and feelings of isolation, especially those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ask an older friend or relative to show you old photographs and share stories. Don’t worry that you’re going to make him feel sad; chances are you’re giving him a great opportunity to feel good and vital again.

By Amy Fries
Source: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives by Jan Yager, PhD, Hannacroix Creek Books, 1997; “Sweet Remembrance: Feeling Blue? Try a Shot of Nostalgia” by Marina Krakovsky, Psychology Today, May/June 2006; “Life Review and Reminiscence Therapy,” www.growthhouse.org/lifereview.html

Suggested Items

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.