The Benefits of Reminiscing

By Charlie Fletcher | July 19th, 2023

From joy to grief, recalling the past can nurture your mind and spirit

woman deep in thought, from Mark Adams. For article on the benefits of reminiscing

Reminiscing can provide benefits beyond the superficial joy of recalling good times. We look at some of the benefits of reminiscing and useful responses.

Reminiscing, or the process of recalling past experiences, can often bring up pleasant feelings of nostalgia. However, sometimes, reaching back and reliving the past can result in a deeper experience that triggers unexpected emotional responses. Either way, reminiscing can be a good thing for your mind and spirit.

Let’s take a dive into the benefits of reminiscing, how to take time to reminisce, and how to process your experiences afterward.

The benefits of reminiscing

Reminiscing can do a lot for a person, starting with giving them hope. When you’re struggling, you can look back on times that were most positive and pleasant for you. Delving into these memories will help you realize that whatever is challenging you right now will soon pass, and you’ll have more good times to look forward to.

On the other hand, reminiscing can bring up many emotions. A memory can make you feel happy, sad, and confused, triggering responses like crying. Letting out a good cry isn’t a bad thing, though, as crying can help ease pain and renew your emotions. You get a chance to feel your feelings, and that can be incredibly freeing.

Reminiscing can benefit your mental health as well. Recalling positive memories about your past can ignite feelings of happiness, boosting your mood. You have an opportunity to reflect on events that may have affected you negatively and can work through them to healthily navigate trauma that may be affecting you mentally. Also, if you reminisce with others, these social interactions can improve your mental health.

Taking time to reminisce

There will be times when reminiscing happens spontaneously. You’ll see, taste, feel, hear, or touch something that transports you to a distant memory. You need these unforced episodes of reminiscing.

However, you can also be intentional about taking time to reminisce. For instance, you can play games you used to play as a child with your grandkids and tell stories about what it was like for you. You can travel to a past vacation spot to trigger memories about your marriage or time raising your children. Taking some to sift through old souvenirs can be fun too.

Think about what will help you go back in time, so to speak. Schedule these events or make specific practices a part of your daily life so that there are plenty of opportunities to reflect.

Processing what happens during and after reminiscing

There’s a healing power in reminiscing.

For example, you may eat a piece of apple pie that reminds you of the pie your grandma made. Although baking and eating pie with your grandma is a happy memory, the fact that she’s gone may bring you to tears, unexpectedly surfacing feelings of grief, too.

Because reminiscing can get deep, it can prompt emotional responses that you didn’t expect. You want to understand the emotions you felt as you reminisced about this particular thing. Processing your feelings about these memories can help you navigate negativity associated with the memory. It also provides closure and assists you in moving forward.

Journaling after you reminisce can be helpful. You can detail what you thought about and how it made you feel. You can also talk to someone, like a trusted friend or therapist, about what you reflected on to help you flesh out the why and understand what triggered certain emotions.

Ultimately, reminiscing supports a positive mental and emotional state. It brings you closer to yourself and others.

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