feeling nostalgic? It’s good for your mental health

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

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

According to a 2020 research published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, nostalgia can be good for your general health, and it can increase optimism and motivation as well as help you find your purpose in life. Research also shows that as people age, old memories make them feel younger. This makes them more optimistic about their health.

Nostalgia offers mental health benefits. Image Courtesy: Adobe Stock

What is nostalgia?

It can be understood as a sudden desire to return to an earlier point in time, where the mind usually travels to memories of pleasant experiences. Clinical psychologist Dhanya Chandran says that nostalgia is seen as an emotion more than just memories and is a complex experience that involves both thoughts and feelings.

Why do people become indifferent?

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 brain encounters a stimulus in the present, it processes it simultaneously in various parallel ways. Experts say it triggers memories along with the real emotions associated with those memories, creating a deeper richer present experience.

Here are some benefits:

1. Generates pleasant emotions

Old memories often bring up positive emotions. This can be good during stressful times as it provides a momentary escape from cherished memories and experiences.

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2. Inspires you

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

3. Improves well-being

Engaging in nostalgic reflection can have a positive impact on your overall well-being. This is because it promotes feelings of happiness.

4. Reduces loneliness

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

5. Enhances the meaning or purpose of life

Reflecting on past experiences can add depth and significance to your life. Experts say it can contribute to a sense of purpose and meaning.

6. Promotes self-awareness

Nostalgia encourages introspection. It helps individuals understand their personal growth and development over time.

woman thinking
Nostalgia promotes self-awareness. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Reduces existential crises

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

8. Improves social engagement

Nostalgia fosters a sense of shared experiences. It strengthens social bonds as people reminisce together. It creates a sense of connection and belonging, says Chandran.

But this can be problematic if people become too nostalgic. This can also hinder daily work. Thinking too much about the past can cause people to ignore the demands of real life. Additionally, people experiencing distress or mood disorders may be more inclined to recall negative, emotion-filled memories. So, don’t get too lost in your memories and even if you do, focus on positive thoughts.

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