The science behind nostalgia – 6 interesting facts, including the negative ones
Feeling nostalgic: is it bad or good for our health? How does it affect one's personality? What triggers nostalgia? Read on to find out!
In 1688, Swiss physicians believed that nostalgia was a serious illness which attacked soldiers who were missing home. Such soldiers were considered unable to defend their country.
Nobody knew exactly how to cure nostalgia, but doctors tried everything: stomach cleansing, leeches, and even aggressive bullying techniques to make the soldiers stronger. Of course, none of those helped.
According to the scientists, nostalgia is strongly connected with our emotional memories. When we feel nostalgic, we don't miss the events – we miss the feelings we had back then.
As it turns out, smells activate the part of the brain responsible for emotions, which invokes a range of different feelings. The scents we smell during special moments tie with our emotions, which later can provoke powerful nostalgia.
Typically we feel nostalgic once in a couple of days. When somebody is going through tough times in life, they tend to feel nostalgic more often: by making us experiencing more positive emotions, our brain protects us.
Anyway, too much nostalgia can be a warning sign. If a person misses the past all the time, they try to replicate their happy moments, which has a major impact on the decision-making. The past doesn't exist anymore, and the world is changing all the time – what used to be right in the past can result in a lot of problems today.
This perfectly works in advertising. Manufacturers often reuse old ideas and concepts from the past, provoking nostalgia in their customers and trying to sell more. Sometimes such trends can be really manipulative and make people pay for something they don't really need.
This feeling is known as anticipatory nostalgia. You've definitely felt this way: it occurs when you really like what's happening now but feel a bit sad in advance, because this moment is not going to last forever.
Just like missing the past too much, anticipatory nostalgia can also negatively affect us and our mental outlook. If you don't want to reconcile the fact that everything, even the best, will one day pass, you simply don't allow yourself to live in the present.
When we feel emotionally unstable or drained, nostalgia becomes a stabilizing force. It can even be used in therapy as a tool in overcoming loss and grief.
In other words, nostalgia can help people believe there's still good in the world. Nostalgia makes you focus on yourself and your personal feelings so you can forget about your everyday problems for a while and relieve anxiety.
What are you most nostalgic about? Do you believe nostalgia can be dangerous?
Tell us in the comments!
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