What We Know About Long COVID So Far

While the World Health Organization says long COVID starts three months after the original bout of illness or positive test result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets the timeline at just after one month.

Among the many confounding aspects of the coronavirus is the spectrum of possible symptoms, as well as their severity and duration. Some people develop mild illness and recover quickly, with no lasting effects. But studies estimate that 10% to 30% of people report persistent or new medical issues months after their initial coronavirus infections — a constellation of symptoms known as long COVID.

People who experience mild or moderate illness, as well as those without any underlying medical conditions, can nonetheless experience some debilitating long-term symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, an erratic heart rate, headaches, dizziness, depression and problems with memory and concentration.

Such lingering medical issues are so varied that one study by a patient-led research group evaluated 203 symptoms that may fluctuate or even appear out of the blue after people seem to have recovered.

As Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the chief of research and development at the VA St. Louis Healthcare System and a clinical public health researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, said, “If you’ve seen one patient with long COVID, you’ve seen one patient with long COVID.”

How doctors currently diagnose long COVID

There is little consensus on the exact definition of long COVID, also known by the medical term PASC, or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19. While the World Health Organization says long COVID starts three months after the original bout of illness or positive test result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets the timeline at just after one month.

Some researchers and health care providers use other time frames, making efforts to study and quantify the condition more difficult, said Al-Aly, who has conducted many studies on long-term post-COVID issues.

When patients experiencing persistent symptoms go to their doctors, tests like electrocardiograms, chest X-rays, CT scans and blood work don’t always identify physiological problems, Al-Aly said. Researchers are working to pinpoint certain biological factors, called biomarkers, that correlate with persistent COVID symptoms. These could include signs of inflammation or certain molecules produced by the immune system that might be measured by blood tests, for example.

Long COVID is defined as symptoms that cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis and last at least two months following an initial COVID-19 infection. It is usually after three months (12 weeks) of persistent symptoms when a patient is suspected of having long COVID.

Long COVID can affect anyone of any age, including children and adolescents. Even if you had mild or no symptoms when you were first infected, you can be impacted by long COVID.

For some, long COVID symptoms can be more severe than the acute COVID-19 infection itself. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms can persist from the initial illness or begin after recovery, and they may come and go or improve over time.

Long COVID can interfere with a person’s ability to perform normal, everyday activities, like work and household chores. With children, it can affect their ability to do their schoolwork. While it cannot be predicted how long a given patient may experience long COVID, some research has shown that patients can get better over time.

Long COVID Symptoms

Long COVID symptoms are different from acute COVID symptoms. Conditions can include, but are not limited to:

  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of (or changes in) taste and smell
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sleeping problems
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Poor appetite

How Does Long COVID Affect Children?

Some common symptoms seen in children include fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping and concentrating, muscle and joint pain, and cough. As with other medical conditions, young children may have trouble describing the problems they are experiencing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), information on long COVID in children and adolescents is limited, so it is possible other symptoms may be likely in younger age groups.

If your child is suffering from long COVID and is unable to complete their normal school assignments, it might be best to ask school administrators about accommodations such as extra time to complete tests and assignments, rest periods throughout the school day and modified class schedules, says the CDC.

What Causes Long COVID?

It is unknown why people experience long COVID. The cause is still an active area of research. Some experts believe the cause is potentially due to the body’s hyper-inflammatory immune response to a new germ.

By:

Source: What We Know About Long COVID So Far

More contents:

Ways to Build Self-Esteem

Everybody experiences self-doubt from time to time. It’s a normal part of being human. When feelings of self-doubt last for long periods, however, you may have low self-esteem. “Low self-esteem is used to describe someone with a negative view of oneself, feelings of worthlessness and incompetence. Generally people fall on a continuum from low to high self-esteem, and this can vary from day to day and from situation to situation,” says Lori Ryland, a psychologist in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Fortunately, low self-esteem doesn’t have to be permanent. Recognizing symptoms of low self-esteem, understanding its causes and learning steps to thwart it can go a long way toward making you feeling worthy, valuable and confident.

What Causes Low Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can have many triggers and begin at any time in life. Some experts say low self-esteem is more the result of negative or traumatic experiences.

Others say low self-esteem stems from a critical inner voice. “Although it seems that our emotions and motivations result directly from the events and circumstances we encounter, they are instead reactions to our self-talk – the internal monologue that streams through our waking consciousness, interpreting whatever we experience and creating our perspective,” notes John Tholen, an author and retired psychologist who practiced in Southern California for more than 40 years.

Symptoms of Low Self-Esteem

The symptoms of low self-esteem may be hard to recognize or admit to yourself.

Ryland says signs can include:

Or perhaps you may recognize certain habits of low self-esteem, such as being unable to set boundaries. “Letting others have their way and failing to stand up for oneself can occur,” Ryland says.

Ways to Build Self-Esteem

You can build self-esteem with many techniques. Here are 17 to get you started.

  • Get some perspective. Realize that many people experience low self-esteem, and you’re not alone. “Self-esteem issues are much more common than you might think,” says Noam Dinovitz, a therapist in Philadelphia. “It’s one of those issues that frankly is easy to hide.”
  • Give yourself a break. “Maybe you are ‘just right’ how you are. Maybe this is a learning time. Maybe this is how it is all supposed to be. Be kind to others, and be kind to yourself. It is OK if you take a break today,” says Lynn Zakeri, a therapist in Chicago.
  • Be aware of self-criticism. “Take note of what you are saying to yourself,” says Alyssa Friedman-Yan, a therapist in Wilton, Connecticut. “Demand proof for these harsh statements.”
  • Get a second opinion. “First, list a few people in your life whom you value, and the reasons why you value them. Next, when appropriate, ask them why they value you. Then compare the list,” says Aaron Weiner, a psychologist in Chicago. “Is there any overlap? Do you agree with their judgment of you?”

  • Redirect negative thoughts.Reframe that critical voice into a more supportive one. Did you make a mistake? Well, instead of, ‘I’m so stupid,’ how about saying, ‘I learned what not to do,’” says Natalie Bernstein, a psychologist in Pittsburgh.
  • Change your expectations. “Unrealistic expectations can set one up for failure and diminish self-worth,” says Dr. Rahul Gupta, a psychiatrist in Atlanta. “It is important to tell oneself that not meeting certain goals and expectations is permissible.”
  • Write down your definition of worth. Be specific. “When we use general phrases, it’s easy to say we don’t feel good, because we can’t even truly define what we’re saying,” Dinovitz points out. “Furthermore, make sure that the worth is coming from a healthy place. If all of our worth is coming from a source like our jobs or how many followers we have on social media, that’s not healthy.”
  • Set realistic goals. “Start small and start simple. Be proud of even the smallest accomplishments. Change is best when it’s gradual and not abrupt. I like to tell my clients, ‘We cannot get from point A to Z without traveling through the alphabet, so please stop trying to skip B and C. Leave a trail of breadcrumbs so you can see your accomplishment and feel it and find pride in it,’” Friedman-Yan says.
  • Take control of negative experiences. “If we’re able to find purpose in the negative things that have happened to us, then we are able to use our negative experiences to our advantage and are able to feel like we have more control over what happened to us,” notes Brooke Aymes, a therapist in Haddon Township, New Jersey.
  • Take stock of successes. If you’ve succeeded before, you can do it again. “Make a list of all your accomplishments and keep this handy. Review it and add to it often, especially when you’re feeling low,” Ryland advises.
  • Try being assertive in conversation. “Say something that takes courage. It may just be chiming in or an opinion, but assertiveness can help you walk taller,” Zakeri suggests.

  • Challenge Yourself. “Maybe you’ve always wanted to hike a mountain, sleep in a tent or go kayaking, yet you’ve never made time for the experience. The more we challenge ourselves to try new things, the more we see what we are truly capable of and it helps us to build self confidence in ourselves,” Aymes says.
  • Surround yourself with healthy relationships. “Individuals that make up a social support system provide a mirror for one’s positive image. Healthy relationships and social support systems also provide an example of positive values that one can strive to embrace,” Gupta explains.
  • Avoid social media. Many studies suggest that social media is harmful to self-esteem. For example, a review of 49 studies of college students or teens, published online Aug. 27, 2019, by Media Psychology found that comparing oneself to others on social media was often associated with lower self-esteem. “Whether what we see is accurate or not, it’s very difficult to see what everybody else is up to or accomplishing and then not compare that to ourselves,” Dinovitz says.
  • Be in service to others. Aymes advises clients to volunteer or perform random acts of kindness, such as paying for the road or bridge toll of a person behind you in traffic. “Being in service to others helps us to naturally feel like good humans and also makes the world a better place,” she notes.
  • Use affirmations. “Think of how easily you believe critical ones of yourself. Instead, try to choose a phrase or two that you want to believe about yourself. Write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in your pocket, or note it on your phone. When saying it, try to tap into the feeling of the affirmation, imagine what your life would be like if this were to be true. Practice is important here, so set a timer on your phone if you need help remembering throughout the day,” Bernstein recommends.
  • Seek professional help. Consider reaching out to a professional such as a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. An expert can guide you through a number of types of talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which utilizes many of the same strategies in this article, including identifying dysfunctional thoughts and refocusing them to be more positive. “We can improve both our outcomes and our state of mind by identifying – and shifting our attention to – reasonable alternative ideas that are more likely to inspire constructive action or hope,” Tholen says.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up if change doesn’t happen overnight. “A path to self-acceptance is often a long one and has many peaks and valleys,” Friedman-Yan says. “It takes effort and adaptation, and requires us to be mindful in our interactions with self and our world around us.”

By

Heidi Godman reports on health for U.S. News, with a focus on middle and older age. She has over two decades of experience and her work has appeared in dozens of publications, including the Harvard Health Letter (where she serves as executive editor), the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor.

Source: Ways to Build Self-Esteem | US News

.

More contents:

Omicron Job Loss? Unemployment Claims Unexpectedly Spike One Week After Steep Drop In Jobless Benefits Numbers

The number of new unemployment claims unexpectedly jumped for the second week in a row this month, despite a steep drop in the overall number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits just one week earlier—a concerning sign for the labor market recovery after experts warned a record surge in coronavirus cases—spurred by the rapidly spreading omicron variant—could slow the economic recovery.

About 230,000 people filed initial jobless claims in the week ending January 8, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week, according to the weekly data released Thursday. Economists were only expecting about 200,000 new claims last week, according to Bloomberg data.

“This may well be the first report suggesting Omicron is leading to new job loss,” Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick wrote in a Thursday note, pointing out the largest increases were reported in California and New York, where new claims totaled more than 20,000 combined.

The new report also showed the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell to less than 1.6 million in the week ending January 1, a decrease of 194,000 from the previous week and the lowest level since June 1973.

“The future path of the pandemic remains highly uncertain, but the underlying job market narrative overall continues be one of scarcity of available applicants and workers,” Hamrick said. “The latest wrinkle, the high level of individuals testing positive, becoming ill or staying away from work, has added to supply chain disruptions with inflation already running red-hot.”The new unemployment data comes after a disappointing labor report on Friday showed the U.S. added a lower-than-expected 199,000 jobs in December.

After the report, Hamrick said it was still “difficult to measure” the economic impact of the omicron variant at that point and cautioned against dismissing its potential, pointing out widespread worker shortages, stoked in part by lingering concerns over the pandemic, remain a big uncertainty.

Economists surveyed by Bankrate said the variant could weigh on job growth in the first three months of the year, but estimated the unemployment rate will fall from 3.9% to 3.8% in a year. Moody’s Analytics’ Mark Zandi shared a similar word of caution, saying, “Risks are rising,” and forecasting that the economic recovery “is set to turn soft” as omicron stunts business. Amid the latest surge, credit card spending and restaurant bookings have already dropped substantially, while widespread flight cancellations have been another economic concern, Zandi notes.

According to the Labor Department, the U.S. has thus far recovered about 80% of the 20.5 million jobs U.S. employers cut between March and April of last year.

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I

Source: Omicron Job Loss? Unemployment Claims Unexpectedly Spike One Week After Steep Drop In Jobless Benefits Numbers

.

More contents:

Do Rapid Tests Work With Omicron? Should I Swab My Throat? Covid Test Questions Answered

Should we be swabbing our noses or our throats for at-home tests? Do rapid tests even detect omicron at all? Are PCR tests the only results we can trust right now?

Guidance about how to approach testing in the omicron era seems to be evolving by the day. ​​A recent real-world study that followed 30 subjects likely exposed to omicron found that PCR saliva tests can catch Covid-19 cases three days before rapid antigen tests, which use nasal swabs.

These findings, which have not been peer reviewed, follow the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement in late December that, while they do detect omicron, rapid antigen tests may now have “reduced sensitivity.” But that doesn’t mean rapid tests don’t play a key role in our pandemic response going forward.

This is all confusing to a public that’s been pulled in several directions over the course of the pandemic when it comes to guidance and testing. Long delays for PCR test results, a shortage of at-home rapid tests, and the wait for more definitive science about the omicron variant have all made it more difficult to figure out when and how to to get tested. Nevertheless, public health experts say that, as more become available, rapid tests will be an increasingly vital tool for diagnosing Covid-19 and reducing its spread.

“We don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good”

So you might be wondering: What’s the point if rapid tests aren’t as accurate as PCR tests? Well, rapid antigen tests, which look for a specific protein on the Covid-19 virus, remain extremely effective at confirming positive cases. Put simply, if you test positive on a rapid test, you almost certainly have Covid-19.

If you test negative, in some cases, you might still test positive on a PCR test, which is much more sensitive because it tests for genetic evidence of the virus. Rapid tests may not pick up positive cases in people who have been vaccinated or who have recently recovered from Covid-19, since they may produce less virus, one expert told Recode.

Rapid tests can also reveal a positive case faster than the labs that process PCR tests, since they can take several days to share results with patients, especially during big waves of infection. Perhaps more importantly, rapid tests can indicate whether someone is contagious enough to spread the virus to others, which is what many people are most worried about.

“Given that a rapid antigen test is often the most feasible or available option for many, we don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good,” Joshua Michaud, the associate director for global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Recode. He explained that every Covid-19 case that’s caught by someone who could take a rapid antigen test but not a PCR test is a win for public health.

Taking rapid tests more frequently also makes them more effective. Most at-home rapid test kits are designed to be conducted over the course of two days, which is why kits typically include two tests. Because each test is a snapshot of the moment it’s taken, multiple tests help reduce the chance of receiving a false negative.

Of course, all of this is assuming that you can get your hands on a rapid test. In the weeks since omicron started to spread, rapid tests have been incredibly hard to find in some parts of the country. These tests are out of stock because neither test manufacturers nor the Biden administration anticipated record levels of Covid-19 cases, which have boosted the demand for rapid tests.

To confront the shortage, the White House plans to buy and distribute 500 million free rapid tests in the coming weeks. When that happens, these tests could help catch more positive cases and lower the number of people infected with Covid-19.

How accurate are rapid tests when it comes to omicron?

The accuracy of a rapid test depends on how often you’re testing yourself and whether you want to identify a Covid-19 infection or measure your contagiousness. But if you test positive on a rapid test, you should trust the result, assume you’re infectious, and isolate for at least five days. If you test positive again after five days, the CDC recommends isolating for five more.

Rapid tests, however, are not perfect. Research indicates that antigen tests are less accurate than PCR tests — this has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic. PCR tests are processed in a lab, where sophisticated equipment can identify and amplify even the tiniest genetic evidence of the virus that causes Covid-19.

These tests are so precise that patients can actually test positive for weeks after they’ve recovered and are no longer contagious. The results of rapid tests, meanwhile, can vary based on how much virus is in a patient’s nose at the time the sample is taken and how far along they are in their infection.

Scientists explain the difference between rapid tests and PCR tests in two ways: specificity, which reflects a test’s false-positive rate, and sensitivity, which reflects a test’s false-negative rate. Both PCR and rapid tests have high specificity, which means that their positive results are very trustworthy. But while PCR tests tend to have near-perfect sensitivity, rapid antigen tests tend to have a sensitivity around 80 to 90 percent. This means that rapid tests tend to produce more false negatives than PCR tests do.

“Most at-home tests are still able to detect infection by omicron because they target a part of the virus that doesn’t mutate that much”Omicron makes testing even trickier. The sensitivity of rapid tests may be even lower for omicron cases, according to early research from the FDA and other scientists.

Another problem is that omicron may propagate more in the throat than the lungs, and it could take longer for Covid-19 to show up in nasal samples, even if someone is symptomatic. It’s possible that vaccinated people and people who have recently recovered from Covid-19 are noticing more false negatives on rapid tests because they tend to produce less virus overall.

“At-home tests are mostly effective when the person has high viral loads, a time when the person is more likely to transmit the virus,” Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, a viral immunologist at Northwestern’s medical school, told Recode, “Most at-home tests are still able to detect infection by omicron because they target a part of the virus that doesn’t mutate that much.”

Separate studies from both the UK’s Health Security Agency and researchers in Australia found that antigen tests are as sensitive to the omicron variant as they were to earlier strains of Covid-19. Again, the FDA does still recommend rapid tests to diagnose positive cases, and test manufacturers say they’re confident in their products’ ability to detect omicron.

While early research indicates saliva tests might detect Covid-19 more quickly, right now most of the PCR tests and all of the available rapid at-home tests that have emergency use authorizations from the FDA use nasal samples.

How to use rapid tests in less-than-ideal circumstances

Which brings us back to the question of whether you should be sticking nasal swabs in your throat. There is evidence that saliva samples may be a quicker indicator of Covid-19 cases, but that doesn’t mean you should stop following the directions that come with your test kit.

The FDA says that people should not use rapid antigen tests to swab their own mouths. Some experts say you might consider doing so anyway, and point out that other countries, including the UK, have approved rapid antigen tests that use throat swabs and released very careful directions about how to do so.

“​​I personally do swab my throat and my nose to get the best sensitivity when I use over-the-counter tests at home,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard, said at a Thursday press conference. “There are risks associated with that, but the biology does tell us that they might be getting better sensitivity earlier.”

But the concern with rapid test kits right now is not that people are swabbing their noses, but how often they’re swabbing their noses. A single test could miss a Covid-19 case and produce a false negative, but taking two tests over a 24 to 36 hour period reduces this risk.

The more rapid tests you take, the more you reduce your chances of a false negative, and the more times you test negative over multiple days, the more confident you can be that you’re not spreading Covid-19.

Still, the biggest problem right now is that rapid tests are pricey and hard to find. Pharmacies have limited the number of test kits people can buy, and many are completely sold out. A single test can also cost more than $10, which means that testing yourself regularly gets expensive quickly. Opportunists have even hoarded tests and engaged in price gouging, which has exacerbated the shortage.

If you don’t have enough tests to test yourself regularly, it’s best to test yourself right before seeing vulnerable people, says Mara Aspinall, a professor who leads Arizona State’s testing diagnostic commons and a board member for the test manufacturer Orasure, told Recode. “I’m heading to a vulnerable person [or] I’m going into a health care setting, and therefore need to test right beforehand.”

For now, the best test kit is the test you can get (Wired has a handy list of the brands currently available). If you’re planning to go somewhere and don’t want to spread the virus, you should take one rapid test the day before traveling, and then a second test immediately before you go. If you only have one rapid test, take it right before you see people.

Testing yourself should become easier as more rapid tests become available. In addition to the 500 million free rapid tests that the White House will distribute beginning later this month, people with private insurance will also be able to get their rapid test purchases reimbursed starting next week. You should also check with your local health department, as they might be distributing free tests.

Even though the rapid test situation is still less than ideal, there are other strategies we can use to protect both ourselves and other people from Covid-19, like getting vaccinated, getting boosted, and wearing a mask. And if you do happen to find some rapid tests, go ahead and grab them. They might just come in handy, especially if you use them correctly.

Correction, January 7, 10:30 am: An earlier version of this story misstated in one instance the kind of false results that might appear more often on rapid Covid-19 tests among vaccinated people and those with immunity from recent infection. The false results are false negatives, not false positives.

Rebecca Heilweil

Rebecca Heilweil is a reporter for Open Sourced, covering emerging technologies, artificial intelligence, and logistics. Her Twitter handle is @rebheilweil.

Source: Do rapid tests work with omicron? Should I swab my throat? Covid test questions, answered. – Vox

.

More contents:

Five Ways Nostalgia Can Improve Your Well-Being

Some recent studies suggest that experiencing nostalgia about our past can make us happier and more resilient during times of stress.

I often find myself nostalgic for days gone by—especially my young adulthood. Thinking about days when I could go backpacking with a friend on a moment’s notice or dance the night away at my wedding, without the constraints of child care or a limited energy supply, gives me a bittersweet feeling—a mixture of joy, sadness, and longing.

While I find nostalgia pleasant overall and even inspiring, doctors and psychologists did not always consider it a good thing. Staying “stuck in the past” was often associated with being unable to adjust to new realities, like when soldiers were nostalgic for their faraway homes and experienced loneliness and dread. Not that long ago, some considered nostalgia to be a mental illness, akin to melancholy, which could lead to anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

But more recent findings on nostalgia suggest it can be good for us, increasing our well-being, making us feel connected to other people, and giving us a sense of continuity in our lives. And it seems to come on naturally when we need to weather life’s difficulties. Rather than being a problem, nostalgia can help bring happiness and meaning to our lives.

Here are some of the ways nostalgia can benefit us, according to science.

Nostalgia makes us feel socially connected

Nostalgia about our past often includes recalling important people in our lives—people who cared about us and made us feel like we belonged. Certainly, my own nostalgic musings are centered around times when I was with the people and places I love. So, it’s not too surprising that recalling these special times would make us feel more connected to others, in general.

In one study, researchers found that people who were asked to write about an event from their past that made them feel “sentimental longing for the past” felt loved and supported, and this, in turn, helped buffer them against loneliness. Another study found that when people felt nostalgic about times in their lives when they interacted with members of an “out-group”—for example, teenagers recalling fun times with older adults—they felt less prejudice toward that group.

Nostalgia also seems to help us maintain our relationships. For example, one study found that inducing nostalgia helped people feel more optimistic about relationships in general and more willing to connect with friends. Another study found that when induced to feel nostalgia, people (especially those who find connecting with others easier) felt more able to offer emotional support to the people in their lives.

Nostalgia helps us find meaning in life

A sense of meaning in life involves knowing that your existence matters and that your life has coherence or purpose. It’s something we all strive for in one way or another.

Fortunately, research suggests nostalgia can be an important resource for increasing meaning, by highlighting central moments in our lives and giving us a sense of continuity.

In one study, researchers compared nostalgia to two seemingly related forms of thinking about one’s life: recalling a positive past event or imagining a desired future. Focusing on an event that made them nostalgic led people to feel their lives had more meaning compared to imagining a desirable future. And, compared to both other reflections, feeling nostalgic reduced people’s need to search for meaning in their lives—they already felt life had meaning.

In another study, people either listened to music that brought them back to a particular time or read lyrics to old songs. These nostalgic activities not only made them feel loved and socially connected but also increased their sense of meaning in life. And, when people read an essay that encouraged them to think that life had no meaning—which said, “There are approximately 7 billion people living on this planet. So take a moment to ponder the following question: In the grand scheme of things, how significant are you?”—they naturally turned to feelings of nostalgia for relief from that sense of meaninglessness.

These findings and others suggest that nostalgia not only heightens your sense of meaning in life, but can act as a buffer when you experience a loss of meaning. And it may help you move forward in life, too. As one study found, nostalgia can increase your motivation to pursue important life goals, because it increases meaning—not just because it puts you in a better mood.

Nostalgia can make us happier

Though it does seem to do just that—to boost our mood. Even though nostalgia is by definition a blend of positive and negative emotion, the positive tends to outweigh the negative, meaning we feel happier overall.

In one very recent study, 176 university students were randomly assigned to a six-week nostalgia program where they were asked weekly to write about a past event that brought on “a sentimental longing for the past” (while a control group wrote about past events that were ordinary). Afterward, they reported on their levels of positive and negative emotions and how much the writing provided a sense of social connection, meaning, or connection to their past self. At different points in time, they also reported on their life satisfaction, feelings of vitality, and well-being.

The researchers found that nostalgia was generally beneficial, leading people to experience more positive emotions, life satisfaction, and well-being, as well as fewer negative emotions—at least three weeks into the program. These benefits mostly disappeared after that—except for people who started the experiment already engaging in nostalgia regularly. For them, going through the nostalgia program brought them greater life satisfaction and fewer negative emotions up to a month later, possibly because the program was a better fit for them.

A lot of the benefits on happiness may be connected to nostalgia’s effects on social connection and meaning. But it could also be that nostalgia helps us see ourselves in a truer, more authentic light.

Nostalgia puts us in touch with our authentic selves

When thinking nostalgically about our past, we are the prime protagonists in our own life stories. Perhaps because of this, nostalgia helps us to see our lives as continuous and coherent, providing us with a sense of authenticity.

In one study, when primed to feel nostalgic by writing about a time in their past, people saw their past self as an authentic representation of themselves. This, in turn, reduced their focus on meeting the expectations of others versus following their own, intrinsic expectations of themselves. In other words, it helped them be their authentic selves.

The researchers also studied how threats to one’s sense of self might make people engage in more nostalgia. Half of the participants read this text: “Many people feel that they have two sides to themselves. One side is the person that they show to other people; the other side is their true self—that is, the person who they truly are deep down.” Then, they wrote about times in their lives when they’d found it hard to reveal their real selves to others.

The other half of the participants wrote about their daily routines and when those routines were disrupted. Then, both groups reported on their positive and negative emotions, as well as feelings of nostalgia.

Findings showed that people who focused on threats to their self-concept experienced more negative emotions, and in turn felt more nostalgic. This suggests that nostalgia helps put us in touch with our “real selves” and protects us against threats to our authenticity.

Perhaps for this reason, engaging in nostalgia can lead to personal growth. At least one study found that feeling nostalgia made people feel more positively about themselves, which, in turn, made them more open to experiencing new things, expanding their horizons, and being curious—all signs of psychological health.

Nostalgia may help people who feel disillusioned or depressed

Perhaps because of these potential benefits, people tend to engage in nostalgia when they are feeling down, lonely, or disillusioned. Many studies have found that nostalgia seems to protect people from negative mind states, bringing about a kind of emotional homeostasis.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that nostalgia is always good or can’t have a downside. If nostalgia makes us spend too much time thinking about our past, it may prevent us from recognizing the joy in our lives right here and now. And, since we tend to engage in nostalgia when negative things occur, it could become an avoidance strategy that keeps us from dealing with present problems in more effective ways.

Encouraging groups of people to feel nostalgic could also have negative consequences. For example, one study found that nostalgia made people more likely to believe political claims, regardless of their veracity. Inducing nostalgia could be an advertising ploy used to affect consumer behavior, which could lead to poor choices, too.

Still, chances are that nostalgia is more a blessing than a curse, and a winning strategy for feeling better about ourselves. It can increase our connection to others, our sense of meaning in our lives, our authenticity, and our happiness. So, why not tune into nostalgia now and then? It may just help you meet the challenges of the moment.

Source: Five Ways Nostalgia Can Improve Your Well-Being

.

More Contents:

%d bloggers like this: