Listening To Christmas Music Too Early Can Lead To Stress, Unhappy Feelings

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –Remember when Christmas themes didn’t go out until after Thanksgiving? Not anymore.

Some radio stations are already playing Christmas music exclusively, and doctors say that can be upsetting to some.

It’s not even Thanksgiving and already Christmas decorations are up in some places.

Retailers often break out the holly as early as possible because research shows playing Christmas music, combined with holiday scents, leads shoppers to buy more and spend more time in the store.

Psychologists say it’s the early holiday music, specifically, that can aggravate some people.

“If it starts too soon and people tend to have stress responses to the holidays, it activates those stress responses early — to shop, to produce a perfect holiday,” psychologist Scott Bea of the Cleveland Clinic said. “If people are prone to that perfectionism, hearing Christmas music too soon can create those associations and ramp up the tension before anything is really happening.”

Bea says, generally, people who have happy childhood memories of nice holidays full of celebration and good feelings often get excited about the early tunes.

But if someone has negative holiday memories, hearing music associated with this time of year may bring back unhappy feelings.

One poll shows that almost 25 percent of Americans say the most stress-inducing part about the holidays is listening to the music.

For others, simply getting the festivities out of order just doesn’t feel right. Christmas themes up and out before we carve the turkey — colliding holidays — can actually create a stress response in our brains.

“You know, you have to block it out a little bit,” Bea said. “You can do it physically if you have little ear buds, or something you can put in to cancel it out. You can change the station if they’re playing Christmas songs a little too early. You have a little governance over how this might affect you.”

So you can just say no, at least before Thanksgiving. But starting with Black Friday, it will be hard to avoid Christmas themes that will be everywhere.
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