At this time of year, it not only begins to look a lot like Christmas, but Christmas starts to completely take over. Red and white Santas on every corner, tinsel-covered pine trees in all the windows and colored lights flashing from every rooftop. And as for Christmas music, the grocery stores, TV channels and radio stations all sing out proudly with Christmas bells and holiday classics.
Unfortunately, while jamming out to “Jingle Bells” in your festive pajamas may seem like a great way to get into the spirit of the season, these cheery holiday tunes may actually be damaging your mental health.
What Merry Music Does To Your Mind
Spotify reports that November and December are the most popular listening months, with Michael Bublé’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” leading the way as the most streamed tunes. That leaves no question as to the type of music we hear during the short weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But why is listening to merry music all that bad? Actually, there are several reasons.
Studies show that listening to music tends to hinder learning capacity and comprehension. This was especially true when the songs contained lyrics. So while “Winter Wonderland” may seem appropriate for all occasions, if you want your brain to be working at its best, it may be better to leave the music off. (1)
Listening to the same Christmas carols over and over makes it easier to get them stuck in your head. And while most people will find this simply annoying, some find it incredibly disruptive to their sleep and even their daily ability to function. If you find yourself getting distressed due to repetitive holiday songs, it’s time to tune it down. (2)
While the holiday break can be relaxing at times, many people find this time of year incredibly stressful. Maybe you’re worried about finances, family visits, gift shopping, or all of the above. Studies show that music can be easily related to memories. And with so much going on at once, listening to the same music every year around this time can over-saturate your mind with past stresses as well as current stresses and only end up escalating your frustration. (3)
How To Have A Truly Merry Christmas
Luckily, there are ways to keep your holiday season merry and bright, while still enjoying the occasional Christmas carol.
Try switching up your music often so your brain doesn’t get stuck on the same old tunes. Taking a break from your holiday playlist will give you a renewed appreciation for your favorite Christmas classics.
2. Keep Other Senses Involved
Studies show that involving your other senses can be helpful when trying to avoid mental stress. Try filling your home with winter scents like pine and cinnamon, distracting yourself with holiday traditions, or even eating delicious treats. This can also be helpful in associating Christmas music with happy memories rather than stressful memories. (4, 5)
3. Turn It Off
And if all else fails, you can always just turn off the radio, delete your playlist, and move on to other activities. After all, earplugs can make great stocking stuffers!
Christmas Music Isn’t Everything
While it may be difficult to escape the Christmas tunes, remember that Christmas really isn’t about the music, the food, or the gifts. The best way to spend your Christmas is to not let anything get in the way of your spending time with friends and family!
Written by Emilyn Gil