Too much Christmas music could be bad for our mental health

Roberto Nickson / UnsplashChristmas music supposedly gets us in the spending mood.
  • Christmas music is coming.
  • From now until December 25, you’re going to hear a lot more of the most popular festive tunes.
  • But listening to them over and over could have a negative impact on your mental health.

If you’ve managed to avoid Christmas music so far, that’s only going to get harder the closer to December we get. Prepare yourself for more stores blasting out “All I Want for Christmas,” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

Christmas music is something you either love or hate. If you find the tunes pretty annoying, then spare some sympathy for retail workers who have probably had to listen to festive tracks for at least a month already.

If you work in a shop and you already feel like Christmas songs are getting to you, you might actually be right.

According to clinical psychologist Linda Blair, relentless festive tunes can be mentally draining.

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

At first, holiday music can spark feelings of nostalgia. But after the tenth or twentieth time Michael BublĂ©’s Christmas album blasts through the speakers, you may feel annoyance, boredom, and even distress.

It’s the “mere exposure effect,” psychologist Victoria Williamson told NBC. Essentially, when you’ve heard songs a certain amount of times, the brain becomes oversaturated and you start to find them unpleasant. Then, other stresses about money, travelling, or seeing relatives can become exacerbated.

However, Christmas music isn’t going to go away. Retailers see it as an opportunity to get customers in the mood for spending.

In fact, some research has shown that getting the right balance of Christmas songs can make shoppers feel more positively about their environment. That’s also why some stores pump out “holiday scents” like pine and cinnamon – to influence shoppers to spend more.

For those who work in retail there’s probably no escape from Christmas for the next few months. So you might want to buy some earplugs.

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