Longing for the past can improve your health in a number of surprising ways.
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“Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom, and anxiety,” John Tierney wrote in a recent New York Times article. “It makes people more generous to strangers and tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories.” It may even make you literally warmer: Feelings of nostalgia are more common on cold days, and people in cool rooms are more likely to reminisce than those in warmer ones, research shows. Why? It might be evolutionary: “If you can recruit a memory to maintain physiological comfort, it could contribute to survival by making you look for food and shelter that much longer,” researcher Tim Wildschut, PhD, told the Times. Here’s how to leverage your happy thoughts and warm memories to make yourself healthier.
Carve out time for reminiscing.
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Some 79 percent of people naturally experience nostalgia at least once a week, research indicates, but you don’t have to wait for a chance memory to pop into your mind. Loyola University researchers discovered that thinking of good memories for just 20 minutes a day can make people more cheerful than they felt the week before, reported Psychology Today.