Stirring up nostalgia can be great for making us feel better when we’re tired, stressed, or otherwise feeling off. Bringing back positive memories of earlier times can make us realize all the good that life has to offer. When the present becomes too overwhelming or we start to get anxious about what the future has in store, taking a moment to mentally relive those moments that we cherish can induce internal happiness and alleviate negativity.
So, what are some ways in which we can evoke feelings of nostalgia? How can we center our thoughts on recollections that will instantly elevate our mood? The first thing to consider is using each of the five senses to activate our memory: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.
Touch. The hug of a loved one, holding another’s hand, or wearing certain fabrics are all ways in which touch can bring back positive moments from the past. We can also handle items from our childhood, such as sorting through a box of notes written between childhood friends, looking at old photographs or sifting through time capsules that we still have tucked away in a closet and digging out boxes of items that help us remember days of old. When we have these items in hand, we’re immediately reminded of why we’ve held onto them and made to appreciate their sentimental significance.
Sight. This is a particularly powerful one. We can begin to reminisce by watching home movies or those films we enjoyed in our youth or by visiting places that hold powerful memories. We can visit people whom we haven’t seen in some time, head back to an old school for a day of recounting our time there, or visit an ice cream parlor we once frequented with friends.
Hearing. When we hear things that were audible many moons ago, these can instantly reel us back to the past. Something as simple as hearing an ancestor’s voice recorded on a cassette tape or listening to an old disc we enjoyed back in the day are powerful nostalgia-inducers. Hearing certain songs or sounds we heard enjoyed once upon a time can propel us right back to where they originated.
Smell. Smell is another very powerful sense, and certain scents can remind us of being in particular places. For instance, maybe you are inside a flower shop, and the aroma of an array of arrangements reminds you of your childhood garden. Maybe you are at the cinema and the smell of popcorn reminds you of your first date or of weekend movie nights with old friends. Smelling perfume can remind us of a high school dance, and freshly cut grass can remind us of playing outside as a child.
Taste. This is perhaps the most fun of all the senses! Getting to taste things that bring back fond memories can be very enticing. Digging out your grandmother’s old recipe book and whipping up a batch of her famous holiday cookies or making a dish that your family used to pass around the dinner table can be great ways to benefit from taste-induced nostalgia. Visiting certain restaurants or the kitchens of loved ones and enjoying a meal with those we haven’t seen in a while are also ways in which taste can offer a powerful window into the past.
It’s common to be inadvertently wielded back into days of old when you unexpectedly encounter something that evokes your senses and instantly reminds you of other times. You don’t always have to actively recreating events. This can happen completely out of the blue and be a welcomed relief from stress, instantly lifting your spirits.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and it doesn’t always have to be intentionally induced to be enjoyed. However, if you’re looking for a way to alleviate negativity and shift to a more positive mindset, try employing the five senses to get through trying times. Keep your eyes and ears open, as well as your other three senses, and you just may be in store for an impromptu trip into the past.