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The Health Implications of Nostalgia

by Gab Billones


Remember those old memories of yours when you’ve tried the stupidest thing that you thought you would never do? What about the most regrettable experience that lingers up until now? Or those longing for someone you haven’t seen for a long time? What about those longing to go back to the place where you grew up and spent your happy days of childhood? Or the epiphanies that paved the way to who you are now? Maybe you’ll best remember those happiest moments in your life upon asking yourself – will it happen again someday? Life indeed is full of memories like these that we commonly refer to as nostalgia.


Nostalgia is one of our very own unique characteristics that makes us humans, as I may say. It serves a lot of purposes in our lives that goes even up to from conditions that could affect the way we think. For such a long time, nostalgia is basically treated as a psychological condition which physicians don’t recommend. This is even evident on what the real meaning of the word “nostalgia” is.

Nostalgia is derived from two Greek words that refers to the epitome of sadness. It is compose of the word “nostos” which means “homecoming” and “algos” meaning pain. By the looks of it, it is indeed coined for the longing to come home. In fact, looking back from the times we were at home is indeed kind of painful especially if your current life turns out to the direct opposite of what you used to envision.

This term was coined by medical professionals during the 18th century about the conditions of soldiers every time they feel a deep depression for a long assignment overseas. Since then, having nostalgia is rendered by despair or intense homesickness. As a result, those who are having this condition are pulled off duty for them to recover in such mental condition.

As of today, the term is no longer associated on things that suggest thoughts about despair. It is now commonly linked with those wistful thoughts of earlier times wherein it triggers a sense of euphoria as you recall a pleasant memory.  In fact, a lot of researches have been conducted in order to assess its health implications.

According to these studies, nostalgia does not intently increase negative emotions. The way we handle such memories are the reasons why we feel depressed, insomniac and the like. In fact, it increases positive emotions for most. During the research, as nostalgia is induced in the lab, the test subjects tend to feel good as they think about cherished experiences from the past that makes them feel good at the present.

It also increases self-esteem as well as our perception to what life really means for us. By being able to revisit such cherished experiences, nostalgia boosts our positive self-regard and promotes a feeling that life is full of meaning and purpose.

Another research suggests that nostalgia increases our perception of social connectedness. Nostalgic experiences tend to be highly social in nature. As a result, it makes us feel closer to others thinking about the memories we shared with them and all the ups and downs that  have been  through. This is what makes our bonds stronger as years go by thinking that someone out there values and loves you.

These thoughts and state of mind contribute to the overall mental health of a person. Indeed, the nostalgic experiences stand as neutralizer to possible bad happenings in status quo. It makes people sane by reliving the thoughts of what could still be done, if it is under our control.

These are just  few of those psychological implications of nostalgia. Indeed, others might feel despair at times, when they wrongly perceive such condition or they feel negatively about it. But nostalgia, in its most natural sense, isn’t a means to provoke such memories. It is more of making us feel good if we intend to think about the good memories. Always make good memories along the way.


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