How to Boost Mental Health Through Nostalgia

For Bell Let’s Talk Day, NMC’s President and CEO Andrew Mosker shares how his vinyl collection helped him through pandemic stress, followed by his own playlist to get you inspired to tap into the mental benefits of nostalgia.

Recently, I took a musical trip to the past, rediscovering old records that inspired me when I was a kid. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but rather an instinctive need to seek comfort during a challenging time. The result has been nothing short of miraculous. Through the power of those dusty LPs and analog vinyl playlists, something special happened. I felt a renewed sense of hope and the energy to keep going. It’s a journey that led me back to myself.

Recognizing the past 22 months have been a struggle for so many, particularly in our music sector, finding ways to cope has been a challenge. The burnout and the lack of hope from all of it can be tough. I feel it, both professionally and personally.  

Searching for that work-life blend, confronting really difficult decisions as a leader, struggling to keep oneself and others inspired and safe while facing so much uncertainty has not been without challenges. Despite incredible success through re-imaginations, pivots and reflective silver linings, it’s been really tough to continuously find positivity. But listening to music has always had a special way of lifting me up.

My parents were pre-Boomers from the silent generation (1926-1940), so the records in our house were mostly of well-known singers from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. They were played on our family turntable for the whole house to hear. Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Aznavour (my parents saw him perform in the 1950s on their honeymoon in NYC) and Patsy Cline could be heard throughout our home. Being the youngest of five kids, I was also exposed to my siblings’ records, which were much different than our parents’. Elton John, Carole King, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, David Bowie, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Harmonium, and the Guess Who. 

Over the past three months, coping with my own mental health struggles, I have found my way back to the music I heard as a kid. It has shown me how much I rely on it for comfort, and how I seek music out, whether intentional or not. Music has helped relieve pain at some of the darkest times in my life. It has always been there for me. It was there for me when I was young and continues to be there for me now. I am so grateful.

My good friend, Calgary-based Music Therapist Jennifer Buchanan, recently published a book called Wellness, Well Played: The Power of Playlists, which speaks to the power of healing. I’ve always believed that music heals but only recently, when I needed it most, has it seemed more like gospel.

If you haven’t already discovered the power of a creating a playlist that is unique to you, I encourage you to take the time to create one, for yourself or for someone in need. Music is a remarkable gift that can heal in unexpected ways.