How to Stay on the Positive Side of Holiday Music

Avoid the musical pitfalls psychologists warn can sabotage our holiday cheer.

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Posted in , Dec 14, 2017

Christmas music while shopping

As the actual 12 Days of Christmas get closer and closer, many of us have heard so much holiday music, it’s starting to make us feel fa-la-la-la lousy!

By now, we’ve been hearing these familiar and favorite songs for weeks. According to a report by the Tampa Bay Times, many major retailers started playing holiday music in their stores before Thanksgiving. One store turned to the holiday channel on October 22!

A British psychologist, Linda Blair, studies holiday music and says it can have a detrimental effect on mental health. Here are three ways to stay on the positive side of what—in moderation—can be a joyful aspect of the holiday season.

1) Turn Down the Volume
“Christmas music is likely to irritate people if it’s played too loudly,” Blair told Sky News. If you like hearing your favorite carols while you’re making dinner, lower the volume so it’s pleasing background noise rather than a blaring soundtrack. Tuck a pair of ear buds into your bag while holiday shopping and be ready either to just wear them to dampen loud store music or plug into your mobile device to listen to your own music.

2) Listen Mindfully
“Music goes right to our emotions immediately, and it bypasses rationality,” says Blair. Retailers understand this, which is why they spend big bucks researching which songs slow customers down, which excite them, and—of course—which make them likely to spend more money. Try to make your holiday shopping list before stepping into a music-rich store, so you’re not battling the emotions of the songs while trying to make purchasing decisions. If you feel yourself getting distracted, stop and listen mindfully to the music, to the way it makes you feel and notice it as just one among many sensory aspects of where you are.

3) Sing Along
Another pitfall of holiday music is that it can feel like an unceasing reminder of all we have to do, cook, buy, travel and mail during the holiday season. If you’re listening to carols in the car and feel your stress level rising, lean into the music and sing along! Singing is known to trigger the release of endorphins, brain chemicals that make us feel happy and content. See if belting out a few verses can help you release some of your stress, and leave you fa-la-la-la laughing in the process.

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