Why Nostalgia Can Improve Your Mental Health During The Winter Months

Let's face it: Things tend to seem slower and more routine during the fall months.

Whether you blame the diminishing length of sunlight during the day, or you're just someone who sees fall as a time of despair, this time of year tends to become a depressing reminder winter is coming.

This makes a lot of us feel underwhelmed with life.

We are underwhelmed with our position within it, and we're downright angsty in many cases.

Hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock ceases to be a small reward, and it quickly becomes a requirement of the daily routine.

Luckily, there are some things — and some people — that can help.

I recently met up with an old friend from ages ago who had moved out of state. We had been the best of friends for a long time.

Her departure left a lasting impact on me that I didn't realize until she came back to visit.

Meeting up with an old friend can do wonders for the mind.

Reminders of who you were and what you were up to years ago can produce an incredible sense of nostalgia.

That's really good for your head.

Research shows reminders like these can reduce boredom and anxiety in people.

Nostalgia — which was previously thought of as “dwelling in the past” and being a trait of depression — is now shown to produce positive outcomes for mental health.

It can make us more receptive to people, and it can reduce our feelings of loneliness.

Nostalgia can also literally make you feel warmer, which is especially helpful when the temperatures begin to drop.

Having a good conversation with an old friend helps induce nostalgic feelings in ways current friendships can't.

It's not that old friendships are more valuable. They simply produce different memories, which in turn produce remembered emotions from times in the past.

Conversations with older friends also reinforce your sense of identity.

When I spoke with my friend, she remembered how much I loved to write and encouraged me to continue the hobby.

She even suggested I start writing within genres I hadn't written in for well over a decade.

Her suggestion rekindled my desire to continue on this path, and it reinforced the idea I was doing what I was supposed to do.

It helped me realize a good part of my identity, and it kicked away my skepticism over whether or not I should pursue my dreams.

Again, it's not that new friends or relationships can't achieve this.

Older relationships, however, produce validation not just in the current time period, but also in the years prior.

In other words, conversations with old friends help you see the path you took, and they validate your current position in ways a conversation with someone you just met a year ago cannot.

Obviously, there are situations where meeting up with an old friend can produce negative outcomes.

I'm certainly not advocating we all reconsider skipping the 10-year class reunion.

But, doses of nostalgia can help you recenter your efforts and see what your long-term goals of the past were.

They also help you see where you need to go from here to achieve them.

I'm happy I went to visit my friend when she was in town.

Her kind words, thoughtful encouragement and infectious laughter helped me to realize old friendships are valuable, even when they're separated by four-hour drives.