Christmas is in the air, and although the breeze isn’t as cool as it was a few years ago, early mornings in some places, whether air-conditioned or not, give you that same old feeling of nostalgia. According to a study on ScienceDaily.com, nostalgia can make you feel warm--literally.

Researchers from the University of Southampton investigated how emotions triggered by nostalgia can help alter the perception of actual warmth. They did five trials: the first, which had participants write down their nostalgic feeling for 30 consecutive days, showed that people felt more nostalgic on colder days. The second trial, which had participants separated in three different rooms with varying temperatures (20 degrees, 24 degrees, and 28 degrees Celsius), showed that those in the coldest room felt more sentimental.

The third was an online trial that used music to evoke nostalgia. This was to see if such a feeling induced higher body temperatures. The participants who had heart-warming emotions reported that they also felt physically warm.

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The fourth trial placed individuals in a cold room. One group was asked to recall memories that made them feel nostalgic, while another recalled ordinary memories. Those who had fonder recollections perceived the room temperature to be higher than those who didn’t.

The last trial had volunteers remember either a nostalgic memory or an ordinary memory before placing a hand inside a container of ice-cold water. Similar to the previous trials, those who had sentimental thoughts bore the frigid temperature longer than those who had plain reminiscences.

"Our study has shown that nostalgia serves a homeostatic function, allowing the mental simulation of previously enjoyed states, including states of bodily comfort; in this case making us feel warmer or increasing our tolerance of cold. More research is now needed to see if nostalgia can combat other forms of physical discomfort, besides low temperature," says study co-author Dr. Tim Wildschut.

So if the early morning breeze is too cold to your liking, or if your office air conditioning is directly above you, think of the fondest and nicest memory you have. Let nostalgia warm you up in more ways than one.

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(Photo by Victoria Henderson via Flickr Creative Commons)

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