This article was originally published in the American Psychological Association.

For many, the holidays bring back memories of simpler times, along with the carefree feelings of being younger, with fewer of the worries and stress that accompany responsibilities. The music, the food, the gatherings with family and friends can all trigger feelings of nostalgia, helping us think about our past and the special moments we’ve experienced.

But even more than serving as a comfort, research shows nostalgia can benefit our mental health by affirming social belonging, alleviating loneliness, and enhancing our sense of meaning. When we revisit happy memories, our brains release feel-good chemicals like dopamine, giving us a natural high. This boost in mood can help reduce stress and anxiety, making us feel more content and satisfied with our lives.