For most people, the sound of Christmas music tends to immediately bring up fond Christmas memories. However, do you know that Christmas music can actually have a huge impact on our mental health? New research shows that listening to jolly and cheerful Christmas music will, in fact, not make you relax, but can wreak havoc on a person’s mental health. Experts are of the opinion that listening to too much Christmas music or hearing it too early before the actual holiday season can actually make you feel depressed and anxious. According to many psychologists, Christmas music if played too loudly or too early, is likely to make people feel trapped and serve as a constant reminder of what all work they still need to do, such as buying presents, organize celebrations, cater for people, get the money in place for the Christmas celebrations and presents etc. Christmas music serves as a kind of opening bell for the holiday season.
Christmas Music & Mental Health – Good Or Bad?
Instead of making you feel happy and jolly, Christmas music often serves as a sort of opening bell to bring in the Holiday Season. These Christmas songs actually make the brain begin a countdown clock to December 25th, reminding us of all about the things that are pending and causing anxiety and stress in our minds. There is no doubt that all of us have a huge list of works lined up that we need to complete maximum by Christmas Eve, December 24th. Loud Christmas music often triggers thoughts of how many people we still need to buy presents for, what we need to do to plan the Christmas party, traveling, meeting relatives, etc. While one would expect that listening to Christmas music will give rise to warm feelings about family and giving, however, not many of us know that Christmas music can also trigger all sorts of negative feelings in our mind upon listening to the chords of loud Christmas music.
According to clinical psychologist Linda Blair, Christmas songs can actually make us feel trapped. According to Blair, people who are working in shops during the holiday season and are listening to the same Christmas songs on repeat, their brains need to work harder to tune out the Christmas songs or else they end up losing focus. You end up spending most of your energy in trying not to hear what is being played on repeat. In fact, Dr. Blair believes that store workers are at a higher risk of being mentally drained by this onslaught of cheerful Christmas music. Being played on repeat, Christmas music in stores is likely to irritate most people if it is being played too loudly, and also if it’s being played way too early. Most stores, in fact, start displaying an array of Christmas decorations and other related items immediately after the end of Halloween. This is also the time around which Christmas music hits the speakers at these stores, more than one month before Christmas.
What Happens When We Listen To Christmas Music?
According to Dr. Rhonda Freeman, a clinical neuropsychologist, our response to Christmas music depends on what we associate it with. While many of us tend to associate Christmas music with a happy childhood and a time of presents, traditions, and a general feeling of warmth and specialness that is usually associated with this time of year; for others, it is not the same. Just as our brain can bring up an entire host of positive associations with Christmas music, it can also give rise to a feeling of anxiety and sadness. For people who had an abusive childhood or experience during Christmas time or some sort of a bad memory during the holiday season, the Christmas music tends to unlock feelings of stress and anxiety.
Christmas music is believed to generally impact the amygdala, the area of the brain which unlocks our emotions and reactions to stress factors. As often times the holiday season can also be associated with pain, Christmas songs for that percentage of the population can be very painful to hear. For retail workers, hearing Christmas songs play over and over again makes their prefrontal cortex work harder to filter it out in order to allow you to focus. The added stress on the prefrontal cortex creates a stressful environmental in the body as your brain is now working twice as hard to focus.
So we can safely conclude that although Christmas music is good for our mental health; however, there are a small percentage of people for whom Christmas music is bad and it triggers anxiety, depression and other negative feelings in them. This could be because Christmas music reminds them of all the work that they have pending, or Christmas music could remind them about some sad incident which took place during this time, such as a death of a loved one. For store workers, constant listening to Christmas music on the loop hampers their concentration, makes them irritated and reminds them that they are not a part of the jolly crowd and have to serve others in fact during this holiday season.
If the moment ever comes when you have heard the same Christmas song one too many times, then you can always turn to your loved ones and family to help you get through the holiday season without becoming overly stressed.
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