How nostalgia keeps us positive during tough times


Photo by Jon Tyson from Unsplash

Since quarantine began, I have found out that there is really not much to do with all this extra free time we have had recently. With not much to do, people get bored and when people get bored they find themselves doing things that normally would never cross their mind. Whether it is just listening to a song you knew all the words to many years ago or downloading old games on your phone you used to enjoy as a kid, we never normally have the chance to take the time and revisit these old things and activities we used to enjoy. Now that we have the chance to remember and re-experience all of these things, we should be taking advantage of this opportunity.  

Nostalgia is simply defined by Lexico as, “A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” 

People can feel nostalgia for pretty much anything at any point in their lives that they may miss or just have positive memories surrounding a certain time or place. The idea behind nostalgia does not always have to be negative as something you may never have again, it can easily be something positive that could potentially be of great help.

Jeanette Leardi with the Huffingtonpost says that nostalgia “may give you the boost you need to deal with a current challenge, or to simply feel better — not just about your past or present, but also about your future.”

One great example of a current challenge for everyone right now would be having to deal with this pandemic. It is easy to look at the downside and spend every day wishing for things to go back to normal, but it is way more fun actually doing something with all this time until things do go back. 

Instead of taking hour-long naps every day and whatever else is being done with this time, bring out an old yearbook and look at pictures you have not seen or even thought about in years. The memories and feelings associated with things such as these pictures are great ways to keep positive during this time. Remembering the past can help us feel better about what the future has in store for us. 

Savannah Wilson with MONQ explains, “It’s becoming well established that engaging with the experience of nostalgia can improve your sense of motivation, increase your productivity, and even decrease your experience of loneliness or disconnection.” 

There is a huge distance between people during this time and many people can be feeling alone. Nostalgia and good memories can help get rid of those negative feelings. There are so many different forms in which you can experience nostalgia and there really is no limit to what objects or places can feel nostalgic. Looking at old Instagram posts or digging through old art you used to make are just some of the endless ideas when trying to find something that can bring back happy memories and help keep a positive outlook during tough times.

Natasha Sharma with YMC explains, “Current research shows that being nostalgic at times helps us to feel good, about our lives and ourselves. Our memories can temporarily alter our perception of our current mental state. This is because savoring fond memories connects our past to our present, pointing us toward the future with hope.”

Having hope is something we all want during times like these, and nostalgia is the perfect way to have that and stay looking on the bright side. It is so simple to take the time and remember things that used to make you happy, because, for all you know, it may just continue to do so after all this time.