It Turns Out Science Thinks Holiday Music Is Actually Bad For Your Mental Health

Every year, the holidays seem to come earlier and earlier. Eager advertisers and retailers can’t wait to remind customers it’s almost shopping season, and people looking to get into the spirit of things start blasting their holiday playlists the moment October ends. 

Researchers are now saying that all of this holiday music might be too much of a good thing, and in the end could be bad for your mental health. 

Some time around mid-November, or even earlier these days, holiday music starts playing everywhere. In stores, on TV, and of course, on the radio. It’s almost impossible to escape it. 

And though it may get people in the holiday spirit at the start of the season, towards the end, many are ready to pull their hair out. 

It’s a phenomenon researchers call the mere exposure effect

“There’s a U-shaped relationship between the amount of times we hear music that we like and our subsequent reaction to it,” says Victoria Williamson, Ph.D, who conducts research on the psychology of music at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Hearing a holiday song may cause a positive reaction at at first, but repetitive listening will cause it to have a diminishing effect, which could eventually become irritating and cause boredom or distress. 

According to a Consumer Reports survey, 23 percent of dread holiday music. 

The reason: repetitive music can have an amplifying effect during what is already a stressful season. If you’re already worried about work, shopping and visiting your family during the holidays, hearing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” for the hundredth time is only going to make things worse. 

Of course, for the many people that dread holiday music, this wasn’t exactly news. 

And retail workers may be getting the worst of it. 

Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, says constant holiday music can be especially taxing for people working where it’s played all day:

“People working in the shops [have to tune out] Christmas music, because  if they don’t, it really does stop you from being able to focus on  anything else…’You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to  hear what you’re hearing.” 

So what’s the solution to all this added holiday stress? Researchers say that seasonal scents like pine and cinnamon can help promote feelings of happiness. And just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean holiday music is all you should listen to. Make sure  to change your music playlists to keep your brain from getting bored. The best way to keep from burning out on holiday music is to listen to it less. 

H/T – Business Insider, Inc, NBC