Christmas songs can actually be bad for your mental health and here's why

23 October 2018, 12:30 | Updated: 19 November 2018, 16:00

Mariah Carey Christmas Music
Mariah Carey Christmas Music. Picture: Getty / Getty Creative
Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

No shit, Sherlock.

Christmas might be the season of giving, but Christmas music might be giving us something we definitely don't want: bad mental health.

There's a lot of factors that can make Christmas super stressful. There's the financial pressure to buy gifts - which usually end up in the bin or in second-hand stores. Then there's spending time with family who you might have bad relationships with. Some people don't have family and friends they can be with over the holidays, which can be very isolating and lonely.

And you know what makes that worse? Christmas music. It's everywhere, right? From the 1st November onwards, it's impossible to go into a shop or public place without hearing Noddy Holder screaming "ITS CHRIIIISSSSTMAAAAASSSS" like a possessed garden gnome through some crappy shop speakers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those poor souls working in retail at this dreadful time of year.


Well, it turns out hearing those songs over and over again leads to the 'mere exposure effect'. According to NBC, Victoria Williamson, PhD, who conducts research on the psychology of music at Goldsmiths, University of London, explained that there's a U-shaped relationship between the amount of times we hear music that we like and our subsequent reaction to it. At first we like the song, then we like it more and more until it hits a peak. And then we hate it.

People who are already stressed about the holidays, because of things like money, family etc., might find that the music works as a trigger or reminder of the cause of their stress, Williamson says. On the other hand, those who like the holiday season will get a boost from the positive associations triggered by Christmas music, like childhood memories, presents etc.

So, if you're already anxious or stressed about Christmas already, hearing the same Xmas songs on loop could trigger those negative associations. Our suggestion to get over this? Keep your headphones on you at all time and avoid all public places until January. Simple. [H/T LadBible]