In the world of retail, Christmas has officially arrived, accompanied by its polarizing genre of music. Admittedly, I am guilty of reviving my Christmas-themed Spotify playlists the day after Halloween. My November routine so far has consisted of crawling back to my dorm after class, turning on all of my string lights, making a cup of coffee, and playing Christmas music. When I need a pick-me-up, Mariah Carey is there for me with "All I Want For Christmas Is You." When I need to calm down, Josh Groban soothes me with his masterpiece of an album, Noel. To me, the effects of Christmas music are magical.
So, it's surprising that this festive genre could actually harm mental health. According to psychologist Linda Blair, Christmas music can "exacerbate the stress you experience during the holidays" -- especially if you start playing it early (guilty as charged).
"It might make us feel that we're trapped," she explains. "It's a reminder that we have to buy presents, cater for people, [and organize] celebrations."
These negative effects are the worst for retail workers, according to Blair, as they're forced to listen to holiday music constantly while demonstrating cheerful customer service. This makes it difficult for them to truly enjoy the holiday spirit in their own lives.
To those exhausted by Christmas music, Scott Dehorty, licensed certified social worker, offers insight. "While it's difficult to not listen to Christmas music … you don't have to enjoy it," he suggests. "One issue is that we all feel like we should be enjoying the music and atmosphere." In other words, you don't need to force yourself to be happy when you hear Christmas music. If the genre fails to lift your spirits, you don't need to manufacture an inauthentic Christmas cheer.
Dehorty continues, "Make the holiday what you want and enjoy it. Make it about giving or volunteering for those in need. Start new traditions you look forward to."
Though many people, myself included, consider Christmas music a beautiful, joyful element of the holiday season, some experience feelings of stress when they hear it. It's not uncommon. If Christmas music ignites unpleasant emotions for you, fear not; you can still have a happy Christmas by embracing other parts of the season. Bake Christmas cookies. Make cards for your friends. Watch holiday movies. Take part in what feels good to you, and your Christmas will be merry.