As the weather gets colder, the sky gets greyer, and we find ourselves navigating the never-ending slushy-maze around campus, I find myself routinely reflecting upon the past. 

To be specific, this usually consists of looking through an abundance of old pictures from the happiest days of summer, listening to playlists as I remember nights spent with friends, laughing alongside the people who made me smile the most, and reading over the journals I kept, each page uniquely filled with absolute nonsense. 

As I was sitting in my four o’clock class today, I watched the sun as it set at the ungodly hour of 4:39 pm and couldn’t help but fall immediately back into the routine of reminiscing upon warmer days. While I flipped through my summer pictures, it seemed kind of redundant to consistently edit and re-edit summer throwbacks and only to post yet another “wishing I was here rather than studying for exams” type of post, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do in order to get through the crazy Kingston winters, right?

Each month, I create a new playlist, adding any and every song that I love or that will remind me of special moments when I listen back later in life. Although this usually doesn’t create the most cohesive playlist, it does create a way for me to escape reality and return to some of my favourite memories from days gone by. I’m not sure how many times I’ve listened to my August playlist already this year, but somehow whenever “Wish U Were Here” by Cody Simpson comes on everything seems okay in the world for 3 minutes and 16 seconds. 

I hadn’t quite decided if this was a bad habit or not, the bittersweet feeling that I am left with leaves me longing to return to a summer spent with friends and filled with wonderful memories. But what I have recently discovered, is that a little nostalgia is a good thing. 

Nostalgia serves a positive function within the brain and actually has the capacity to improve our mood and mental health. Although this notably *emo* feeling can provoke a multitude of emotions, it doesn’t cement us in the past, but in reality, raises vitality and spirit. The feelings of connection that are incensed fostered a greater sense of self-continuity, and increases awareness of our own connections, reminding us of the social web in which we belong, therefor emphasizing the loved ones that exist in our lives across time. All of which serves a conclusive purpose: an improved mental state!

As the semester comes to a close, and our lives become increasingly busy with an elevated quantity of assignments and exams, it becomes easy to feel lost in our work and hidden in the school bubble. With our minds wandering and longing for memories of the past, this physiological response becomes more easily triggered as life gets bumpy and busy. So remember, this exam season, if you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed, spend some time revisiting the past. That bittersweet feeling might be more effective than you think. Set aside some extra time to look to revisit your favourite photographs, cook a special meal, share your best stories, and listen to *that* nostalgic playlist; it might help you relax a bit more before you hit the books again.

No matter how many times you have had to listen to “Wish U Were Here” in order to survive this crazy time of year, we can get through it together… with a little nostalgia.

Header image courtesy of the author

Amy Newnham is a guest contributor for Muse online.

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