The power of the throwback photo: how looking back at our photos boosts our mood & is more relaxing than meditating

Over recent weeks, our social feeds have been filled with people reminiscing about travel memories, moments with their loved ones and many photo focused challenges. Whether it’s posting a photo of your happiest memory #MyHappyPhoto, sharing a throwback of you in your 20’s #MeAt20, or the first photo you and your partner took together #OurFirstPhoto – we’ve all embraced sharing our throwback snaps. But is this just a social media craze or does looking back at our photos have a deeper impact?

New research from CEWE has highlighted that looking back at our photos has a significant impact on our wellbeing and can dramatically improve our mood. Over a fifth of people look back at their old photo’s multiple times a week and when doing so they feel nostalgic (65%), happy (56%), relaxed (31%) and inspired (14%).

But this isn’t the only feeling our old photos give us. In fact, the research shows that the nation finds looking back and reminiscing on their favourite snaps more relaxing than meditating and listening to podcasts. The preferred ways to relax include:

  • Having a bath (34%)
  • Looking at photos (32%)
  • Exercise (25%)
  • Listening to podcasts (9%)
  • Meditating (8%)

Of course, at the moment sharing new content on social media isn’t always possible as there are no picturesque brunches, drinks in the sun or picnics in the park for us to snap and share on our feeds. Instead, we are throwing it back and for good reason – looking back at times that we felt our happiest can boost our mood and transport us back to those good times.

Leading UK behavioural psychologist, Jo Hemmings says: “Taking the time to look back on our treasured memories can be truly beneficial for our wellbeing as it can help to evoke feelings of positivity and happiness. Because of this, and especially at times like this, we should take more time to appreciate and look back on them.”

Here Jo shares her top five tips on how looking back at our favourite photos can boost our wellbeing and reduce feelings of stress:

  • Studies show that when people review photos on their phones, this not only triggers feelings of primary and positive emotions such as joy and love, but it also strengthens our memory and relationships. Our photos remind us of people, pets, places and activities that we love as well as helping us to remember the past. This has been shown to reduce our stress and enhance our mood and overall wellbeing.
  • Looking back and reminiscing on happy times and special moments, creates an ‘emotional bubble’ – as if on auto-response we return to the moment that we can see in the image. This fuses with our wider memories of the occasion that we might not have photographed and transports us back to a happier place.
  • Laughing at silly photos releases endorphins, our body’s natural stress reliever. Seeing images of our friends and family, in significant moments in our and their lives, reduces cortisol and adrenalin which are the hormones responsible for anxiety.
  • Our mantelpieces, windowsills, shelves and sideboards, where many of us display our treasured photos in frames have been shown to be one of the most peaceful places in our home. This is because of the immediate sense of wellbeing that we get by looking at photos of our loved ones at various stages in their developing lives.
  • Research has also shown that having ‘real’ photos in our home, provides regular psychological positive reinforcement by reminding us of ‘social bond enhancement’ – essentially what and who are important to us.

If you want to boost your mood by getting involved in a throwback photo challenge, CEWE is asking people in the UK to share a photo that makes them smile on Instagram with the #MyHappyPhoto hashtag. People can also tag @cewephotoworld up to Thursday 30th April, with five entrants being chosen to win a CEWE PHOTOBOOK, allowing them to make a photo album of their favourite snaps.

More details on the My Happy Photo competition can be found here: https://cewe-photoworld.com/pauseforamoment

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