New evidence shows the calming power of reminiscing about happy times

Posted on May 15, 2017

Memories are precious and helpful, particularly happy memories. There are research evidence indicating that recalling happy memories can help to combat stress and improve the mood.

In a research study conducted by Mauricio Delgado and Megan Speer at Rutgers University, findings revealed that simply recalling happy memories can combat acute stress at a physical level. In the research study involving 134 volunteers, all subjects were aroused emotionally by being put in a stressful situation of having to be videoed while they plunged their hands into icy water. Some then spent 14 seconds reminiscing about a positive experience while others reflected on an emotionally neutral event.

Results showed that the group which recalled happy memories felt better, and the expected rise in their levels of the stress hormone cortisol was only 15 per cent, on average, of the increase observed in the neutral memory group. This shows that thinking about happy memories can be a buffer that minimizes physiological stress response. This is important, since there is evidence indicating that people who tend to calm down physiologically soon after stressful events are generally healthier, both physically and psychologically.

However, it is noteworthy that the aforementioned research was carried out on healthy adults. People with depression usually find it hard to recall positive memories, so this technique may not work well for them. Nevertheless,the recollection of happy memories is a simple and scientifically proven way to improve ongoing mood - you can try this the next time when you need a boost in your mood!


Source material from The British Psychological Society

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