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When We Crave Nostalgia After Experiencing Trauma

When I experienced a traumatic event in my life, I found myself longing for things from my childhood. I wanted to go back to a time that didn’t have so much pain, a time where I felt safe. I had this deep rooted need to connect with something that brought me some sense of comfort.

After my life-changing injury, I drew a line of sorts and separated my life into two parts. There was life before trauma, which I refer to as the old days, and life after trauma. And I wanted so badly to go back to the old days before I had so much to deal with. I found comfort in memories from when I was younger and life was easier. I found myself listening to my favorite songs as I was growing up. I watched the movies that took me back to my childhood. I needed a connection to my life that existed prior to the trauma I was walking through. While I was revisiting my past, I was experiencing the power of nostalgia.

Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental yearning to return to a time of happiness experienced in the past. Studies have shown nostalgia not only can boost your mood but also provides comfort and a sense of security throughout a traumatic time in your life. When we go through periods of significant change or trauma, it is natural to long for the good old days.

In an interview with the American Psychological Association, Dr. Krystine Batcho states that “It’s very difficult to grasp change, because in some sense, at a very deep psychic level, change threatens us. It’s a little frightening because we’re not 100% sure that we can control it. One of the most important aspects of being a healthy human being is having a sense that you are in control of things. When things start to change, either very substantially, such as major events in a person’s life, getting married or getting divorced, getting a new career, going back to school or graduating from school, it’s comforting to have a nostalgic feeling for the past that reminds us that although we don’t know what the future is going to bring, what we do know is that we know who we have been and who we really are.”

Whether you have walked through a personal trauma in your life or have struggled during this pandemic, nostalgia can be very comforting. Nostalgia takes us back to a period of time when our life was not so stressful, a time when the responsibilities were not so heavy. It brings us back to our happy places. Nostalgia may be sparked by a place you visited in the past, a favorite song from your childhood or even the aroma of your mom’s home cooking. And because nostalgic memories have strong emotions tied to them, while you are reliving the experience in your mind, you may also feel a sense of happiness and comfort.

So next time you find yourself struggling, indulge yourself in some nostalgia. You’ll feel better afterward.

Getty image by scisettialfio.

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