Why Lockdown Has Us Doing Things We Loved As Children
In all the social isolation, the fear of contracting the virus, financial issues, and uncertainty about what’s to come, revisiting childhood is providing a sense of comfort. Sonia Thomas, for instance, is back to watching Disney shows. Like her, Surbhi Dugar is doing things she used to love as a child — dancing, coloring, and baking.
“Doing these activities is a good escape for me. For that time, I’m able to forget the dystopia we’re living in,” says Thomas, a 27-year-old writer from Mumbai.
For Dugar, a 29-year-old entrepreneur from Kolkata, going back to childhood hobbies makes her feel “secure and calm.” She adds, “Reading the news and understanding this pandemic really takes a toll on me in terms of fear, anxiety, and stress.”
While the lockdown has allowed some the opportunity to learn something new, for many others like Thomas and Dugar, revisiting their childhood, or things that remind them of that time, are helping beat the blues. These activities evoke a sense of nostalgia. According to Dr. Sonal Anand, a consultant psychiatrist at Wockhardt Hospital, nostalgia has been known to counteract loneliness, boredom, and anxiety. “It can make you feel warm in the cold,” she says.
Living in this indeterminate period of uncertainty, major changes in routine and personal–professional boundaries, we could all do with that little warmth for a number of reasons, says Dr. Natasha Kate, a consultant psychiatrist from Mumbai’s Masina Hospital.
Re-reading books, drawing, and painting enables people to express themselves, explore their creativity, and experience an uncomplicated pleasure that is rare in the current times. Simpler activities also help us feel more grounded and comfortable. “They help us direct our mental energies into a more positive space, help us connect to others in a more simple and uncomplicated fashion,” adds Dr. Kate.
Related on The Swaddle:
For Thomas, re-watching reality TV reminds her of the time she spent with her parents. “My mom loves reality TV and watching it with her and discussing the stories behind these people became a way to connect with her while growing up,” she says. Similarly, for Dugar, baking takes her back to the friendship she shared with a girl in the neighborhood. “It has reminded me of the connection and friendship we shared and how my sister and I used to look forward to our baking sessions.”
Because these activities are simple, repetitive, and not too mentally challenging, they can lead to a meditative sense of control and certainty.
“All of these activities are a throwback to simpler times when we didn’t have to worry about a pandemic, job security, and lockdowns, and help us deal with the anxieties of the present time,” adds Dr. Kate.
About 300 years ago, nostalgia was believed to be a symptom of depression or a mental disorder. But modern-day researchers have concluded that the phenomenon doesn’t come from sadness or longing but actually from a desire to reflect on happy memories of the past, The Swaddle reported earlier.
“I spent weekends looking at photos of our wedding, my parents’ wedding and playing the same board games with my children as I did with my parents,” says Devanshi Patel, a 43-year-old interior designer from Mumbai. “It helped improve my mood and overall, put me in a very positive space,” she adds.
Research has also shown that people who regularly engage in nostalgic activities are better at coping with concerns related to death. “Nostalgia serves a crucial existential function,” Dr. Clay Routledge, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at North Dakota State University wrote in a study. “It brings to mind cherished experiences that assure us we are valued people who have meaningful lives.”
Therefore, given the stressful environment we’re living in, finding oneself triggering nostalgia by listening to familiar music or going through old photos is normal, says Dr. Anand. “Right now, we have to focus on anything that lifts our spirits, and if that means you want to just look at the sky to watch planes go by like you did as a child, you should go ahead and do it without thinking about how much time you’re going to waste,” she adds.