Finding comfort in memoriesNostalgia, a coping mechanism, acts as a way to regulate our emotions and becomes a comforting companion at times of adversity.
Imagine being caught in a never-ending whirlwind of daily activities, work and responsibilities. It’s like being on a constant rollercoaster, always moving forward with little time to pause. In the midst of this rush, there are moments when we stop and reflect on the past, on the simpler times when life felt less complicated.
Nostalgia is like a warm, inviting embrace from those memories. It’s the feeling you get when you think back to your childhood, your school days, or special moments with loved ones. It’s as if you're transported back in time, reliving those moments of happiness, innocence, and simplicity.
This longing for the past reminds us of how beautiful life can get, and it’s a universal sentiment that people from all walks of life can relate to. It’s a reminder that no matter how fast life moves, the echoes of the past can bring us solace and a sense of connection to our roots.
Shreya Chapagain, a therapist and mental health support staff working at Intervention Services for Autism and Developmental Delay (ISADD) in Perth, Australia, says, “Nostalgia offers emotional comfort, and it often draws us back to positive memories from our childhood or past, providing solace and stability during challenging times.” In the midst of life’s inevitable storms, these memories become beacons of hope, offering a reassuring sense of continuity.
“I think we get nostalgic because, at the present moment, something is missing, and that something was in the past,” says Shahid Hasan Ansari, a businessman residing in Asan, Kathmandu. It’s as if the present moment lacks a certain magic, a sparkle that our memories provide, he further adds.
Our identity is intricately woven with the fabric of our past. Chapagain emphasises, “Reflecting on past experiences helps us better understand who we are and how we’ve evolved. This connection to our identity contributes to overall wellbeing.” So, nostalgia, it seems, acts as a mirror that reflects our sense of purpose and self.
“I tend to get nostalgic when I remember certain things that remain in memory and will never happen again,” reflects Isha Magar, a recent BBS graduate from St Xavier’s College, Maitighar, Kathmandu. Nostalgia takes us to places and moments that can never be revisited, a wistful acknowledgement of the transience of life.
Sometimes loneliness creeps up on us, and we’re left with nothing but memories to remind ourselves that life can get better. “Recalling positive events of the past can reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety and stress,” notes Chapagain. “It is almost like a therapeutic escape,” she adds.
At times, in the process of embracing adulthood, we face various uncertainties, confusions and harsh truths. In such times, we miss the past surrounding our childhood, where life was orderly and everything felt comforting.
“While growing up, we sometimes get frightened of the uncertainties brought by the present, so we miss our past,” confesses Biplav Dhakal, a fifth-year law student studying at Kathmandu School of Law. In times of unpredictability, nostalgia becomes a comforting embrace. Similarly, A-level student Pradikshya Dhakal, residing in Koteshwor, expresses, “I get nostalgic when my life starts to go through big changes because change is unsettling,”
Nostalgia is not a solitary journey; it’s a bridge that connects hearts. Chapagain suggests, “Sharing nostalgic experiences strengthens social bonds, fostering a sense of connection and belonging, vital for mental wellbeing.” Conversations infused with shared memories deepen relationships, reminding us of the importance of human connection.
Triggers of nostalgia can be as unpredictable as life itself. Sensory cues—a familiar scent, a beloved melody, or a place from the past—open the gates to treasured memories filled with positive emotions. “Nostalgia”, Chapagain elaborates, “acts as a way to regulate our emotions”. In times of adversity, it becomes a comforting companion, transporting us to happier moments.
“It is also a coping mechanism. By recalling past happy memories, we tend to find joy, especially at times of loneliness,” shares Sneha Hada, a second-year student of BBS at St Xavier’s College. Her words highlight one of nostalgia’s most profound gifts: the ability to find joy in the midst of solitude. It’s a form of self-soothing, an emotional lifeline during moments of isolation.
Nostalgia is not a mere voyage into the past; it’s a force that shapes our emotions, our sense of self, and our bonds with others. Whether seeking emotional solace, maintaining our identity, or finding joy in the midst of change, nostalgia stands as a companion, guiding us through the labyrinth of life with its timeless embrace. It reminds us that in the echoes of time, we can always find a piece of ourselves and a connection to the shared human experience.