Before you know it, you won't be able to walk into a store without hearing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" on repeat. Sure, hearing holiday classics can lift your spirits...the FIRST time they're played. But starting the Christmas tunes in October and keeping them rolling all the way into the new year isn't just irritating, it's actually bad for your mental health!
The incessant repetition can have a psychological impact. There's a U-shaped relationship between how often we hear a song and how much we like it, what's known as the mere exposure effect.
At first, holiday music may spark nostalgia and get you in the holiday spirit. But hearing "Jingle Bells" for the millionth time can lead to annoyance, boredom, and even distress, researchers say.
That's because the brain becomes oversaturated, triggering a negative response. If you're already worried about money, work, or seeing family during the holidays, the constant inundation of cheerful tunes may reinforce your stress instead of relieving it. Not to mention, something that's supposed to be "magical" is sure to lose its charm when it's no longer reserved for a special time of year.
So if you're starting to get stressed during the holidays, try changing your playlist!