Illustration by Tanya Bearson
While the sounds of the holiday season might make you feel at home, it seems that the repetition of the same classic Christmas songs are endless. In the beginning, holiday music can spark holiday nostalgia but after some period of hearing the same songs over and over, it can cause feelings of boredom, annoyance, and even mental distress. Clinical psychologist, Linda Blair warns that research shows that playing too much Christmas music can be bad for your mental health.
The inescapable Christmas music playlist can have a psychological impact, there’s a U-shaped relationship between how often we hear a song and how much we like it, what’s known as the mere exposure effect. An expert on the psychology of music, Victoria Williamson, PhD, explained that the first few times your hear Christmas music can put you in the holiday spirit as exposure to seasonal music can link to positive feelings.
But once the same songs are heard constantly, they trigger a negative response in the brain. During the holiday season, people seem to be more worried about money, work, or seeing family, the constant consumption of “cheerful” tunes may increase one’s stress instead of relieving it. In actuality, according to the American Psychiatric Association, about 61 percent of people experience stress during the Christmas season.
Furthermore, the continuous loop played in shops affects the mental health of workers and customers,it can be absolutely distracting to employee productivity and irritating to clients. Due to the fact that when businesses play festive songs in their stores, it puts shoppers in the spending mood, these songs can be especially mentally draining for employees who listen to the carols on replay.
Blair said store workers were “more at risk” of being mentally drained by the array of cheerful music. The same songs being played constantly makes it hard for employees to “tune it out,” and “unable to focus on anything else.”
Additionally, there is a population of people that eagerly throw on Christmas music the minute the temperature drops, while others wait until Thanksgiving is over to start. I think we can all agree that when played too early in the Holiday season, Christmas music can get very old. It seems like the holiday season starts earlier and earlier at U.S. retailers. As early as October, some stores start putting out their Christmas decorations and putting on their Holiday playlists. This is known as the “Christmas Creep,” some retailers like Target have promised to cool the “Christmas creep” and focus more on Thanksgiving during the month of November, while others start promoting Christmas in the fall.
The bombardment of Christmas music can be overwhelming for some, but throughout Berkeley High School I have witnessed the seasonal obsession of creating the perfect Christmas playlist. Personally, I do not feel like there is a need to stop listening to Christmas carols, but be aware of the mental effects Christmas music may have on some, and the diversity of holiday traditions that BHS students may have.