It's official! Looking at old photos is more relaxing than meditating

It's official! Looking at old photos is more relaxing than meditating
(Image credit: CEWE)

Feeling weirdly stressed, having oddly vivid dreams and waking up each day feeling no more rested than the one before? Us too. However, if you feel like you need to unwind, don't bother reaching for your yoga mat – find an old photo album instead. New research from CEWE has found that Brits find looking back at old photos even more relaxing than meditating. 

There have been a slew of social media trends focusing on sharing old photos recently, whether that's a photo of your happiest memory #MyHappyPhoto, a throwback of you in your 20's #MeAt20, or the first photo you and your partner took together #OurFirstPhoto. Looking back at these happy memories is the perfect activity to remind you of all the fantastic experiences you've had in your life so far.

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Leading UK behavioral 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.”

A post shared by CEWE Photoworld (@cewephotoworld)

A photo posted by on on Apr 22, 2020 at 6:01am PDT

Jo has shared her top five tips on how looking back at your favorite photos can boost your wellbeing and reduce any feelings of stress – no more weird dreams!

• 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're looking to boost your mood and find the ultimate throwback pic, CEWE is asking people in the UK to share a photo that makes them smile on Instagram with the hashtag #MyHappyPhoto. You can also tag @cewephotoworld up until Thursday 30th April. Five entrants will then be chosen to win a CEWE photobook, which will allow them to make a photo album of their favorite images. 

Find out more information on the #MyHappyPhoto competition here!

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine and  Digital Photographer. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.