Feeling nostalgic? It’s good for your mental health

It can be good to think about the good times in your life and feel nostalgic sometimes. Here are some mental health benefits of nostalgia.

Feeling nostalgic is often associated with positive emotions connected to a sense of longing that helps you return to a certain time in your life. It was in the 1600s that physician Johannes Hofer first used the term “nostalgia”. He used it in the context of homesickness, insomnia, and anxiety experienced by Swiss mercenaries when they were fighting back home. A lot has changed since then, and now thinking about the “good old days” is often seen as a positive thing. Read on to learn about the mental health benefits of nostalgia.

Nostalgia can be good for your overall well-being, and it can increase optimism, and inspiration as well as help you find your purpose in life, according to a 2020 research published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal. Research has also determined that as people age, nostalgia makes them feel young. This makes their health more optimistic.

Nostalgia offers mental health benefits. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What is nostalgia?

This can be understood as a sudden desire to return to an earlier point in time, where the mind travels through memories of normally pleasant experiences. Nostalgia is seen as an emotion beyond memories and is a complex experience involving both thoughts and feelings, says clinical psychologist Dhanya Chandran.

Why do people get nostalgic?

Nostalgia is a common human experience that can be triggered by sensory stimuli in the present, such as a familiar smell or rain, as well as specific situations such as sitting alone or listening to your favorite songs. .

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What are the mental health benefits of nostalgia?

When your mind encounters a stimulus in the present, it simultaneously processes it in several parallel ways. It triggers memories, combined with real emotions associated with those memories, creating a deeply enriching present experience, the expert says.

Here are some benefits:

1. Causes pleasant feelings

Nostalgia often evokes positive feelings. It can be good in times of stress because it provides a momentary escape to cherished memories and experiences.

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2. Inspires you

Remembering past successes and happy moments can inspire individuals. This can motivate them to pursue new goals or creative endeavors, says Chandran.

3. Improves well-being

Having nostalgic reflections can have a positive effect on your overall well-being. That is because it enhances the feeling of happiness.

4. Reduces loneliness

Nostalgia acts as a companion, so it reduces the feeling of loneliness. It helps reconnect people with positive aspects of their personal history.

5. Increases the meaning or purpose of life

Reflecting on past experiences can add depth and meaning to your life. It can contribute to a sense of purpose and meaning, the expert says.

6. Promotes self-awareness

Nostalgia encourages self-reflection. It helps individuals understand their personal growth and development over time.

Thinking woman
Nostalgia promotes self-awareness. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Decreasing existing crises

By grounding people in familiar and positive memories, nostalgia can help alleviate existential crises by reaffirming the value of personal history.

8. Improves social connection

Nostalgia fosters a sense of shared experiences. It strengthens social ties as people remember together. It creates a sense of connectedness and belonging, says Chandran.

But nostalgia can be problematic if people get too immersed in it. It can even interfere with daily functioning. Thinking too much about the past can cause people to overlook real-life needs. Also, people who experience anxiety or mood disorders may be more inclined to recall negative, emotionally charged memories. So, don’t get too absorbed in your memories and focus on positive thoughts even as you do so.

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