Sure, there is much to be said for the holiday spirit. However, research shows that playing too much Christmas music can be bad for your mental health. What? Yes, some music affects mental health in a negative way.
How Christmas Music Affects Mental Health
According to clinical psychologist, Linda Blair, holiday music might make us feel trapped. “It’s a reminder that we have to buy presents, cater for people, and organize celebrations.”
Unfortunately, festive songs may be especially mentally draining for people working in shops who listen to the carols on constant replay. “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,” said Blair.
The American Psychiatric Association claims about 61 percent of people experience stress during the Christmas season.
An expert on the psychology of music, Victoria Williamson, Ph.D, has spoken about how Christmas music affects the brain. She says it is due to the “mere exposure effect.” The mere exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon where people develop a liking to things simply because they are familiar with them from constant exposure.
Putting Christmas Music In Context
A study from Washington State University examined 130 students by exposing them to holiday scents and non-holiday scents, asking them to rate the scents by pleasantness, familiarity, and intensity. Then they conducted the same experiment with Christmas music and non-Christmas music.
Additional data showed that the right balance of both Christmas scents and songs can make shoppers feel more positive about their environment, according to the research. For example, when researchers paired ambient Christmas scents with Christmas music, people responded more favorably, as compared to no scent and non-holiday music. “The scents of pine, cinnamon, and mulled cider join with the sounds of carolers, traditional hymns and pop holiday tunes [to] create the Christmas holiday season in the minds of many,” the study reports.
The first few times you hear Christmas music can put you in a positive mood. In fact, exposure to seasonal music can link to positive feelings. But when you continue to hear the same songs constantly, the music will trigger a negative response in the brain.
Unfortunately for retail workers, Christmas music is good for businesses. For example, studies have shown holiday music puts shoppers in the spending mood and drives them to buy more.
“Music goes right to our emotions immediately, and it bypasses rationality,” said Linda Blair. She also mentioned that Christmas music is likely to irritate people if it’s played too loudly and too early. “You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”
Music involves multiple areas of the brain that induce emotions, involving reflexes, conditioning, emotional contagion, visual imagery, memory and expectancy. So, yes! Music affects mental health, and not always in the way you’d expect.
Sources: Daily Mail