COVID-19 lockdowns: what about nostalgia for the “era of epidemics”?


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Most people around the world associate Spring 2020 with the anxiety of being confined, the pressure of caring for others, and fear of the unknown, among other unpleasant memories.

But some young people expressed nostalgic, even optimistic feelings about the epidemic era.

Two years after the initial lockdown, some members of the Gen Z population (those aged 10-25) have spoken out on social media for missing the days they were forced to stay indoors amid of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Teenagers and young adults expressed this nostalgia on TikTok. They released videos with background music which was trending around March, April and May 2020.

A young woman is shown on the couch at home. Some young people express nostalgia for the era of confinement. Fox News Digital spoke to experts about those feelings. (Stock)

Many of these creators evoke a “feeling” in the air of spring, the cancellation of major events, pop culture references to the pandemic and other references to the days of restrictions.

What exactly is the psychology behind nostalgic feelings for a traumatic time?

Los Angeles-based psychiatrist Dr. Itai Danovitch, in an interview with Fox News Digital, said it could start with a sense of shared experience in the midst of tragedy — even though people’s individual experiences varied.

“[Some] people have suffered a lot, while others have experienced silver linings.”

“People spent more time with their children or had the opportunity to connect with neighbors for the first time,” he added. He said some of the benefits were “the joy of open roads [and] gain flexibility at work.”

Dr Danovitch also suggested that part of the feeling may lie in making sense of the adversity and the stories told of “what we overcame”.

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“People who have the ability to tell a story of healing and recovery are likely helping their [own] ability to internalize and, in fact, react to what they have overcome,” he said.

He added that “the stories and narratives we tell about trauma are an important part of that.”

NYU Langone psychologist and anxiety specialist Dr. Thea Gallagher, PsyD, also commented on how the complexity of human experience comes into play. She told Fox News Digital how “theory of parts” in psychology complements the varied experience of the public.

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“The [are] parts of [the lockdown experience] it was pretty good,” she said. She said that in some ways there was a lack of pressure, a lack of expectations, “it was good. But I think if you watch it in its entirety – if you could choose to time travel and be there full time, I don’t think that would happen.”

Those who idealize the past might overlook the most frightening and anxiety-provoking aspects of the first pandemic, Gallagher suggested.

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“We tend not to be great historians of the past,” she said. “There’s something in the brain that tends not to remember, sometimes, the hardest part of things. That’s nostalgia.”

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The clinical assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Psychiatry said that ultimately it comes down to this: those who were locked up had to take a step back from mainstream society. Many of them ended up watching TV, working or studying from home and focusing on the only thing that mattered: surviving a pandemic.

A mother works from home while her son holds a tablet on the couch.  (Stock)

A mother works from home while her son holds a tablet on the couch. (Stock)

“It’s easy,” she said, to look at that time through “rose-colored glasses. There weren’t the same expectations… Survival was the main goal.”

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“There was less pressure to do everything and survive.”


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