03/14/2012 12:27 pm ET

Nostalgia Can Help Ease Discomfort

By Stephanie Castillo for Prevention

If you’ve sniffled your way through an Adele song lately (and really, who hasn’t?) calling up memories from the past may seem like the kind of thing you’re better off avoiding instead of indulging in. But it turns out a little emotional time travel might be good for you.

Previous research has shown that a trip down memory lane can boost self-esteem and decrease feelings of loneliness—but a new study found it may even help you withstand physical discomfort, too.

Researchers exposed volunteers to uncomfortably cold temperatures, then asked them to engage in a little nostalgia—by listening to love songs, say, or reminiscing about past events. When they did, they were better able to withstand the cold climes.

In other words, conjuring up a past event in your mind might make it easier to handle other uncomfortable situations, like an unpleasant work task or nagging headache.

If Adele doesn’t do it for you, try these other ways to bring on some helpful nostalgia in a hurry:

  • File away those posed portraits of your pals—and opt instead for the ones that really make you smile. You know, the silly, awkward, and truly sweet pics.
  • Start a nostalgia board on Pinterest that includes stills from your favorite childhood TV shows, snaps of your vacation spots, and the covers of your most loved classics.
  • Create a play list on Spotify or your iPod with songs you danced to at your wedding, or the tune that was playing when you ran a personal best on the treadmill.
  • Dig out grandma’s Irish soda bread recipe and get busy baking; smell is a powerful sense when it comes to memory.

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