With the holidays flying in it’s hard not to get nostalgic. We warmly recall things like wreaths, cookies, lit trees, thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin spice, scented candles and festive parties galore. That’s right I called out the pumpkin spice lovers; we can admit to being basic bitches.
I’m more of a peppermint mocha fan myself, but that is besides the point. *Hint hint.*
Then there are the more sentimentally intimate things like family bonding, spending time with your friends, memories made with your significant other, cuddling with a pet and holiday parties.
Nostalgia can be helpful when it aids us in recalling cherished memories and the good times. It recreates events that brought us joy. It also helps us to deal with pain, loss and lonliness. Recalling positive memories and events can also trigger painful emotions and negative reactions. For example, thinking of a relationship that you were in last holiday season, but not this one. Thinking of the relationship and your memories together brings you happiness, but thinking about how it is not a part of your life anymore can make you somber, even if it was for the best.
With everything that goes on during the holiday season, schedules can get so busy that keeping emotions in check can be difficult, especially if things don’t go our way. Sometimes we can be left feeling overly nostalgic and dwell in the past.
The holidays can be a stressful time of year.
This I’m sure isn’t news to anyone. It’s hard not to think about all of the things you meant to accomplish in your year that never happened or to feel like this holiday season won’t stack up to years past. We tend to feel nostalgia creep in especially when we are feeling failure, lack of value or purpose, are in need of comfort, or we are lonely, according to Psychology Today.
Not everything about being nostalgic is bad news bears though. Reminiscing can help motivate you and act as a potential mood booster according to Loyola psychologist Fred Bryant.
But there’s a time when nostalgia keeps you from moving on.
There is a fine line between recalling positive memories and refusing to move on from them. When we become stuck in a state of nostalgia we can block new experiences from occurring, therefore preventing new memories from forming.
At what point must we force ourselves to continue to make new experiences for ourselves and not dwell in the past?
Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California at Riverside, says it’s all about focus. Where you place your focus can entirely determine how positively or negatively recalling memories goes. When you think of an excellent promotion you got years ago, rather than feeling inadequate for not having achieved something even better in the present, let it motivate you to achieve your current goals.
Studies show that people who are able to be positively nostalgic on a regular basis are less prone to depression and are more likely to be happier than people who do not have this skill.
So remember to stay aware and present this holiday season, because for all you know your best memories have yet to come!