Remember how much fun we use to have on Thursday night happy hour? Remember how little responsibility we had before we graduated from college? Remember how simple life was before we had kids…or got a dog…or had kids AND got a dog? Admit it, these nostalgic thoughts have crossed your mind a time or two hundred in your lifetime.
Believe it or not, there once was a time when an individual was thought to have a medical disease when he or she had nostalgia. In fact, through most of the 19th century in Sweden, nostalgia was believed to be a demon wreaking havoc on the brain (Sedikides et al., 2008).
Fortunately, researchers in psychology have moved past those notions, and we now know nostalgia happens to just about everyone. Personally, I’d argue that if you don’t get nostalgia every once in a while, you might be the one with the medical disease…I’m going to call it Heartless Syndrome because this is a blog, and I can write what I want. 😉
Moving forward, one study found that 80% of people feel nostalgic at least once a week, which brings me to the title of today’s blog, “Sunday Syndrome”. This was a term coined by one of my close friends, Kelsey, while we were in college.
As most of us know, weekends in college were cherished. From FAC (Friday After Class) drink specials to tailgating all day Saturday and bar hopping into the wee hours of Sunday morning, we definitely knew how to have fun. Needless to say, I was always a little sad about putting the weekend to bed on Sunday evening. Alas, “Sunday Syndrome” was born.
Unfortunately, nostalgia oftentimes has negative connotations. “Quit living in the past” or “move on with your life” are typical responses of friends and family members or perhaps a response you tell yourself when you have these thoughts. Well, I’m here to tell you not to move on…sort of.
Everyday people reminisce via text, phone call, social media, or better yet, face-to-face, and more often than not, these recollections of what “use to be” trigger more positive than negative emotions. In other words, nostalgia doesn’t have to be a pity party. Instead, it can be used to:
1. Fight boredom. Nostalgic thoughts help us feel as though our lives have meaning. Reflecting on past events makes us feel as though our life has more purpose in the present.
2. Fight loneliness. Nostalgia almost always involves other people. It’s a reminder of the connections we have to others and combats the feeling of loneliness.
3. Fight mortality. By default, illness and death are tough subjects to cope with. People use nostalgia to fight it, which again brings meaning and connection with others. (The Psychology of Nostalgia (in under 300 words)”; Psyblog)
While I’m a big supporter of reminiscing, I’m not condoning a toast to how much you use to bench press in high school the next time you see your old buddies. There’s a fine line between reflecting on good times and living vicariously through those good times. Know the difference. 🙂