The emotional stages of looking back at old holiday photos

Throwback photos can hit you with a pang of nostalgia at the best of times, but after a stressful year, seeing an old holiday snap of you exploring and enjoying a new culture is enough to send anyone into a state of emotional turmoil.

Unfortunately, technology is not your friend when it comes to FOMO. Our smartphones regularly surprise us with ‘memories’ – photographic highlights from years previous where we could book a last-minute holiday and find ourselves somewhere new a few weeks later.

Read more: Why printing out photos is good for the soul

If you’ve recently woken up to an ill-timed travel photo from the past, here are some of the emotional stages you can probably relate to . . .

1. Grief

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You have to go through a bunch of unpleasant emotions before you can finally scroll through the evidence of your last big getaway with some level of composure – and the first stage is grief.

You can’t help but think how great life was back in the days when weekend minibreaks were a thing, and you’re mourning the person you used to be before the words ‘lockdown’ and ‘restrictions’ could trigger you into a state of deep anxiety.

2. Annoyance

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You can’t help but hate everyone and everything for inflicting this adventure-less life on you. Your partner is unwittingly on the receiving end of your resentment and you’re not quite sure why you’re taking it out on them, but it feels good to bring everyone’s mood down with you.

Hatred of everything is an awkward but totally normal stage of processing old holiday photos, but it usually passes quickly.

3. Impatience

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You know the politicians keep saying things will reopen properly sometime ‘soon’, but that still feels like an age away.

You want to be relaxed and understanding, but you’re also massively impatient and you just want to be in the airport right now, excitedly waiting for your flight.

4. Panic
What if things never go back to normal? What if these jovial holiday snaps are the last time you’ll ever get to properly enjoy a holiday? Allowing yourself to peek back at these photos has really pushed you to breaking point.

Read more: How do you turn travel photos into cold hard cash?

5. Acceptance
Okay, things might not be great, but it’s going to get better. Once you embrace the grief, you can start to heal and move on.

If you’re holding yourself brutally accountable for the pain you’ve caused yourself for opting not to go on that last weekend away, or passing up the opportunity for a holiday back in 2019, then it’s time to love yourself and let go.

6. Optimism

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As painful as it might be, looking back on holiday snaps is making you excited for when things do reopen again.

You can’t wait to pack a bunch of books you’ll never get round to reading, you’re thrilled at the thought of not having to cook for once and you’re definitely going to spend a small fortune on souvenirs you’ll never use.

Read more: Seven tips for turning treasured photos into works of art

You’re even looking forward to the inevitable holiday mishaps, arguments and dramas. Bring on the delayed flights, dodgy tummies and family feuds.

How often do you look back at old holiday photos? How does it make you feel?
– With PA

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