FINDING ways to switch off and relax when a global pandemic is turning life upside down is a considerable achievement.

Social media, of course, is awash with ‘helpful’ suggestions – paint rooms, sew things, pickle stuff – and if you really can convince your nearest and dearest to partake in online family yoga, then fair play to you.

There is, however, a much simpler and more satisfying way to lose hours in lockdown and all you need is a quick ferret around in the loft and a table/floor space/bed to spread out on.

Looking through throwback snaps – the 21st century term for ‘old photies’ – is the answer.

A scroll through social media reveals they are everywhere at the moment.

There’s post-your-best-travel pictures, how-cute-was-I-as-a-baby photos, gigs-that-changed-my-life snaps and #MeAt20, which allowed us all to post images of us when we were young and fabulous.

My current favourite is the ‘life is good’ photo challenge, a little reminder of what we were all doing before coronavirus, and what will return when this is all over.

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Unkind commentators express boredom at this stream of nostalgia but harking back to happier times is, unsurprisingly, helping to keep us calm during this stressful period of our lives.

Looking at old photographs is more than just a social media craze, as anyone who has ever lost an entire afternoon sifting through boxes of family albums can tell you.

But new research from CEWE confirms it - looking back at our photos, whether on our phones or old-fashioned print-style, does not just make us feel happy and nostalgic, it has a deeper impact on our mental health and wellbeing. And at a time when we are all under huge pressure, I reckon anything that will help us get through this unscathed is worth a try.

The survey discovered that of its participants, around a third of people (32 percent) found looking at old photos relaxing, compared to just nine percent for listening to podcasts and eight percent for meditating.

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One behavioural psychologist, Jo Hemmings, suggested it releases endorphins, our body’s natural stress reliever, strengthens our memory and relationships and reduces cortisol and adrenalin, the hormones responsible for anxiety.

Wow - all that from laughing at a snap of me in Oddball jeans and Eighties hair at a Love and Money gig? Amazing.

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