The word nostalgia is derived from two Greek words ostos “return home” and algia “pain”. For most of us, nostalgia simply means a trip down the memory lane which may even catapult a little sadness. However, a research from the University of Southampton suggests that such reminiscence can be a lot healthier than we might think.
This study underlined, remembering days gone by would be an effective way of keeping warm, literally. The five different studies investigated the effects of nostalgic feelings on reaction to cold and the perception of warmth with Chinese and Dutch volunteers.
The first asked participants to keep an account of their nostalgic feelings over 30 days. Results showed they felt more nostalgic on colder days. The second study put participants in one of three rooms: cold [20°C], comfortable:[24°C] and hot: [28°C], and then measured how nostalgic they felt. Participants felt more nostalgic in the cold room than in the comfortable and hot rooms. The volunteers in the comfortable and hot rooms did not differ.
The third study, which was conducted online, used music to evoke nostalgia to see if it was linked to warmth. The participants who said the music made them feel nostalgic also tended to say that the music made them feel physically warmer.
The fourth study tested the effect of nostalgia on physical warmth by placing participants in a cold room and instructing them to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past. They were then asked to guess the temperature of the room. Those who recalled a nostalgic event perceived the room they were in to be warmer.
Study five again instructed participants to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past. They then placed their hand in ice-cold water to see how long they could stand it. Findings showed that the volunteers who indulged in nostalgia held their hand in the water for longer.
To our comfort, we all know that frequently experienced nostalgia by all of us gives us psychological comfort. However, nostalgic reverie may also maintain physiological comfort including bodily function of feeling warmer.