60-Second Mind

Beating Loneliness at Its Own Game

Researchers have found that indulging in feelings of nostalgia curiously combat the sad feelings that accompany loneliness. Christie Nicholson reports

[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]

Remember the last time you sifted through old photographs, daydreamt about bygone days? I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

But does nostalgia make us feel sad and alone?

Well a series of studies published in Psychological Science reveal that sentimental thoughts actually heal loneliness.

Researchers tested more than 1,000 people and found that those who reported loneliness also perceived they had low social support (meaning not many friends, connected family members.) But, they also reported feelings of nostalgia–which then increased their perceived social support. I guess thinking back on times with others, makes one realize that they indeed have had others in their lives.

But in a final study, researchers tested “resilience” in subjects and uncovered a caveat:  It is the most resilient of people who recruit nostalgia when they are feeling lonely.

So as we head into the holiday season, try not to wallow in loneliness, dive into memories of old acquaintances instead. Oddly enough, you might just feel better. 

—Christie Nicholson


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