Nothing beats the blues like nostalgia. That’s the word from Krystine Batcho, a professor of psychology at Le Moyne College in New York. She says nostalgia refers to the emotional state we’re in, when we think of a time in the past that we associate with being happier than now. And while that may suggest that nostalgic people are unhappy about something today, Batcho says the good feelings we tap into with nostalgia can actually make us feel less lonely and depressed. How?
For starters, research shows that nostalgic people have a strong sense of who they are. Basically, from the time we’re born, we go through a lot of changes in life that can feel extremely traumatic – like leaving home for the first time, getting married, having kids, or experiencing a death in the family. Batcho says the only way most people stay grounded through all that trauma is to feel nostalgia because your fond memories of the “good ol’ days” help remind you of the roots and values that are important to you.
Also, our expert says nostalgia can serve as a “psychological substitute” for people you can’t be with – or places you can’t visit. In that case, our expert says feelings of nostalgia can remind you of the good times you had with people who gave you a sense of belonging. And that can make you feel more connected socially, even if you’re by yourself.
In fact, if you’re feeling lonely because you can’t be with friends and family, then nostalgia is the perfect cure. Because it gives you a chance to reflect on the important connections you’ve made with people in the past. And in turn, that gives you a strong sense of self-worth that’ll make it easier to make new connections in the future.