Nagging Nostalgia – What is it?


Nostalgia is a force that has spoken to people for generations. It has people feel happiness, sometimes sadness. But what exactly Is nostalgia and why do we feel it? More importantly, are there any health effects associated with this certain feeling? 

The actual word nostalgia is derived from two Greek words: nostos meaning ‘homecoming’ and algos, which means pain. The main reason the word was derived in such a way was because the scientists in the 18th century that coined the term usually were treating soldiers that were so incapacitated by this feeling they were deemed unfit for combat. So, at the time, the term was appropriately named ‘homesickness.’ In fact, nostalgia was considered a legitimate medical condition for quite some time before the rise of treatments for conditions such as depression. 

Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, with both positive and negative effects depending on how you look at things. You can very easily feel a sense of euphoria from reveling on your past, or even simply remembering a cake that you baked last week. However, this feeling can also cause certain people to spiral downward into feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. It might be nice to remember a fond memory of your childhood and how fun it was to play outside, but that memory might also give you a grim reality check of how you’re stuck in an office building all day. The feeling of nostalgia is quite volatile; which is why you should try to invoke it with caution, because it does have positive effects. 

Nostalgia has been linked to bring about calming feelings within people just as often as it can stress them out. It acts as a balance between the good and evil within us and our minds. This balance doesn’t just relate to feelings but can also inspire people to live healthier lives. Many people will recollect on their childhood days and realize that they were much healthier back then. Which may lead people to want to lead better, healthier lives today to help continue that past. 

So, why exactly do we feel nostalgia in the first place?  

Nostalgia is usually derived from powerful emotions or memories, and as people recollect on these emotions it’s easy to get lost in them. Nostalgia isn’t just a type of emotion, but also a type of thought process. This is why the word has been negatively linked to feelings and conditions such as depression due to its relation of longing. 

Happiness can also be derived from the feeling due to the sense of tradition it can invoke. Traditions such as holidays or religious ceremonies can very easily give someone fond memories of either their childhood or simply a happy event. 

A student at Liberty High School agrees with the aspect of happiness being derived from nostalgia. “Yea, I do like to play a lot of older games, most of which came out when I was a kid. I also still kind of reminisce about a couple trends that became very popular when I was in elementary school.”  

Either way, nostalgia has proven to be a very powerful force that can drive people’s minds to certain places. It’s been proven that the health effects of the feeling are on both sides of the spectrum; all the way up to the extremes. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, so be warned at how it can affect you.