Winter Cheer For All

Holiday season bolsters positive mental health

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Do you feel extra joyful during the holidays? Or would you rather get away from the hustle-bustle and head to to the shores?

In a recent interview with the American Psychological Association, Krystine Batcho, Ph.D. speaks about her expertise, nostalgia, and its implications as the holiday season is undergo. Dr. Batcho believes nostalgia makes many individuals especially cheery while mingling with friends, relaxing with family, or just sorting through the daily mail.

"Spread around some holiday cheer. "

While nostalgia affects everyone differently, neither way notably better nor worse long-term, nostalgic feelings do bring about excessive joy during the holiday festivities. Dr Batcho explains, "people feel more nostalgic during the holidays because many memories are reawakened and relationships renewed."

The doctor states the reason why one person is nostalgic over another is unknown; however what is known is the psychological benefits of the bittersweet feeling. Thinking about the past helps people to understand continuity in spite of a changing world.

"In general, nostalgic people are not happier or sadder than less nostalgic people, but they feel emotions more intensely," Batch commented, also noting the music of the season to bring about old memories and feelings.

The doctor believes music to be "especially evocative of emotion," and that while "some nostalgic song lyrics describe happy memories… sometimes they remind us of loss." Famous Christmas song Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, for example, may vary based on the situation.

Either way, the doctor tells the APA that "families and friends get together to celebrate and reconnect; they get caught up on one another’s lives, reminisce and browse through old photographs. Even from afar, friends and relatives get back in touch, with phone calls, letters, greeting cards and posts on social networking sites."

Facebook, Twitter, and other popular sites spread the season's good vibrations with popular eCards such as JibJab's customizable dancing elves, old holiday videos posted on YouTube, and with simple postings stating sentimental remembrance.  These simple gestures infer a greater reality of of love and care which give the holiday season its special meaning.  

dailyRx consulting expert Peter Strong, Ph.D., elucidates, "nostalgia allows us to reconnect with particular feelings, or what is technically called the felt-sense of a memory. Our whole body literally resonates with this felt-sense in what we commonly experience as a warm inner glow, a sense of inner peace and softness that resonates throughout our body.

"When friends share their reminiscences the felt-sense of each person resonates with the felt-sense of the other. The combined effect is synergistic and can be extraordinarily powerful and blissful. As biological organisms, we have evolved the ability to resonate empathetically in this way as a mechanism for increasing bonding within the group and family. Story-telling is a natural extension of this synergistic process and this is why some of our stories stay with us forever as a source of timeless pleasure."

Dr. Strong tells dailyRx that one of his specialties, the practice of mindfulness, allows these feelings to transcend the holidays into the rest of the year.  He explains "mindfulness, as taught by the Buddha over 2600 years ago, provides a way of opening to both the inner felt-sense and the shared felt-sense of another so that we can really absorb this powerful part of our humanness together. The power of mindfulness to enrich our lives and to heal suffering is quite extraordinary and well worth developing. It's good for the soul!"

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 9, 2011
Last Updated:
December 10, 2011