Ahead of National Stress Awareness Day, new research has highlighted the benefits of recalling positive childhood memories in order to relieve stress and promote a more positive outlook.
The study questioned 2,000 British adults and revealed the impact of recalling childhood memories, with one in ten (10 percent) admitting they helped to cheer them up when they’re feeling down, one in seven (14 percent) claim it helps them relax when they’re stressed and one in five (20 percent) feel more optimistic and energised when thinking back to past happier times.
As well as the positive impact on stressful situations, the survey by beach holiday specialists On the Beach revealed the childhood memories that stick in the mind most vividly, with school trips coming out on top, with nearly three quarters (73 percent) of Brits remembering these days out. However it is the carefree days of swimming in the pool on holiday that came out on top of happy childhood memories.
The holiday company has collaborated with Peter Kinderman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool and honorary consultant clinical psychologist with the NHS, who has provided insight into how memories are constructed – and advice which may help people remember life’s best moments more clearly.
Professor Peter Kinderman commented on how happy childhood memories are constructed and stored as we enter adulthood, and how our early memories are used to help us navigate the world in future.
“Philosophers and psychologists agree that we are what we remember – our self concept, our understanding of ourselves, of other people and the way the world works all depend on our memories.
“Our sense of who we are and our capacity to be happy and fulfilled is hugely dependent on our memories. In mental health, traumatic and unpleasant memories from childhood and the ways in which we get on with our parents are supremely important in determining our mood.
“It’s also true that memories, including folklore type memories, and these days films, books and great literature, are all important in terms of giving us tactics for solving problems in our lives. If our kids are scared on the first day of new school, we say; “do you remember when you joined Brownies, you didn’t like Brownies on the first day, were you scared?” And they say “yes”, and you say, “well you’re scared of going to school, it’s just like Brownies…” Of course, kids are kids, so it never really goes according to plan, but the point is that we learn how to navigate the world using our memories.
“We construct our memories and they are not an exact reflection of reality. Memories aren’t like films, they are more like a cartoon that you redraw every time that you recall something. We’re constructing memories all the time, so kids will build a picture of childhood and a picture of their parents and a picture of what their summer holidays were all about.
“We are constantly building up this picture of who we are and weaving experiences into the story of our life. One experience of eating calamari on holiday won’t necessarily add one percentage point to your happiness, but the overall experience may have all the elements of creating a happy memory: the eating of calamari, the laughing of the juggler, and the fact that the sun didn’t set until 10pm, and the fact that your parents were relaxed, and it was during that holiday that you kissed a boy for the first time… those things you weave into the story of your life, and that’s how memories work.”