What is NOSTALGIA in psychology

  • Jan 12, 2022
What is nostalgia in psychology

Is it bad to feel homesick? Or is it really something that can benefit our emotional health? Nostalgia is associated with a trip from memories to the past to try to experience again the emotion that this meant in our lives. Indeed, it is longing for what we already live with a person or somewhere in our past.

On the other hand, nostalgia can also be triggered by the desire to feel what we have not experienced. To go a little deeper into the subject, in this Psychology-Online article we will describe what is nostalgia in psychology, its definition, the causes and symptoms of nostalgia and what you can do to overcome it.

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  1. What is nostalgia according to psychology
  2. Why do I feel so nostalgic?
  3. What are the benefits of feeling homesick
  4. How to overcome nostalgia

What is nostalgia according to psychology.

The term nostalgia comes from the Greek "Nostos" which means "return home", and which is combined with "Something", whose translation is "pain". According to this etymology translation, nostalgia is the

sadness or pain from being away from home.

The concept of nostalgia was first coined in 1688 by Dr. Johannes Hoffer, who described it as a "disorder mental health ”, since the doctor related this condition to the need of the Swiss soldiers to return to their home. The doctor described that his patients experienced episodes of crying, anxiety, irregular heartbeats and, in the most severe cases, even showed difficulty breathing.

However, the most recent studies show that this nostalgic feeling it is very common in people, so it is no longer considered a mental illness. Even more recent research claims that homesickness produces considerable mental health benefits, provided it is managed wisely.

Why do I feel very nostalgic?

The reasons for nostalgia are varied, but all manifest from memories, which activate mental relationships. Likewise, although nostalgia is an inherent feeling of the human being, the way it manifests itself and the intensity of it may be different between each person.

Let's see what the main causes that can trigger the feeling of nostalgia:

  • Loneliness.
  • The remoteness of a loved one or a cherished place.
  • The need to relive a bygone era.
  • The loss of a loved one or a pet.

When nostalgia invades us

Nostalgia implies feelings of longing for the following aspects:

  • Closest people: such as your partner, friends, family or pet.
  • Environmentsimportant: like home or places where you have traveled.
  • Unforgettable events: such as birthdays, weddings or holidays.

In any case, nostalgia involves the "I" as the central figure and the interaction it can have with others. Likewise, it is a somewhat bittersweet feeling which, if not handled well, can cause negative feelings and a great feeling of emptiness and loneliness. If you want to learn how to identify them, we recommend this article about what are feelings: list, types and examples.

What is nostalgia in psychology - Why do I feel a lot of nostalgia

What are the benefits of feeling homesick?

Studies carried out at the University of Southampton (England), suggest that nostalgia can give us a positive perspective on the past. This perspective gives a greater sense of continuity to the present in order to move forward in life.

In addition, other studies such as the one developed by the psychologist Constantine Sedikides, establish that nostalgia serves as a effective strategy to increase connection with people, events and places, as it helps clarify objectives and, in turn, allow you to move forward with greater confidence.

Here are some of the other main benefits of nostalgia:

  • Raises the feeling of emotional connection And social.
  • Increases the sense of the present and the motivation for the future.
  • Promote the sociable behavior.
  • Raise empathy. In this article you will find information about how to practice empathy in life.
  • It serves for fight thoughts of loss and death.
  • Develop a greater sense of belonging and affiliation.

Ultimately, nostalgia is associated with feelings that are part of human nature. The important thing is to know how to manage it correctly to avoid falling into depression and anxiety due to not being able to return to that past state that you want to relive.

How to overcome nostalgia.

Nostalgia is not an easy feeling to overcome, but it is possible to do so. If you wonder what to do when nostalgia invades you, the first thing to understand is that it is a process that takes time. However, if you put these simple tips into practice, you will reduce their impact on your life.

  • Talk to someone about what makes you homesick: You should not be ashamed of feeling nostalgic, because it can happen to all of us at some point. Therefore, it is convenient to vent to someone. In fact, it would be good if you talk to a friend to make you feel better, since they can support you.
  • Keep your mind busyThe more time you have to think about the cause of your nostalgia, the more longing you will feel. Therefore, try to maintain a good level of physical and mental activity. You can exercise, start a course in something that catches your eye, relax a bit, or do any other activity that keeps your mind busy.
  • Share your nostalgia in a group: try to contact the people who are part of your nostalgia, since this way you will better connect with yours. This strategy will also allow you to know another perspective, which you may not have experienced.
  • Keep traditions creating new memories- A very assertive way to handle nostalgia is to create new memories from the traditions you had in the past. In this way, nostalgia becomes a great ally to face the present.
  • Adopt a pet: Having a pet is a great emotional support that serves to reduce anxiety related to homesickness. Likewise, it will be a very effective strategy to create new memories.
  • Focus on the positive: it is convenient that you think about all the positive things that you have around you. Value the ability you have to face new challenges. This will help your creativity and strength come to the fore. In this article you will see how to always have a positive thought.

The purpose is for you to find the inner balance you need. It is not about avoiding nostalgia, but that learn to manage it assertively so you know how to live with your past, but always focusing on a better future.

What is nostalgia in psychology - How to overcome nostalgia

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is nostalgia in psychology, we recommend that you enter our category of Emotions.


  • Garrocho, D. S. (2019). On nostalgia. Damnatio memoriae. Madrid, Editorial Alliance.
  • Ricoeur, P. (2010). The memory, the history, the oblivion. Madrid, Trotta, 2010.
  • Zell, E., Strickhouser, J. E., Sedikides, C., & Alicke, M. D. (2020). The Better Than Average Effect on Benchmarking Self-Assessment: A Comprehensive Review and Meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 146(2), 118-149.
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