It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but for many people, the holidays are a stressful time.
For some people, that stress can be compounded by the prevalent – and in some cases, inescapable – Christmas music.
Though there hasn’t been any intensive research on the topic, a few surveys in the last decade have found that some portion of Americans don’t really like Christmas music.
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An often-cited Consumer Reports survey from 2011 found that 23% of respondents said they dread seasonal music around the holidays.
Meanwhile, a 2017 survey by Soundtrack Your Brand found that 17% of U.S. shoppers dislike Christmas music. That survey also found that 25% of retail staff in both the U.S. and the U.K. combined say that Christmas music makes them feel “less festive,” and 16% of retail staff say Christmas music “dampens their emotional well-being,” according to the survey.
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Elaine Rodino, PhD, who is in private practice in State College, Pennsylvania, told Fox News that music can have a significant impact on people, particularly related to their memories and emotions.
For some people, if they feel stressed out by Christmas music, it might be because the songs remind them of a bad memory or negative experiences from their past, even as far back as their childhoods, Rodino said.
“Music has a way of stirring emotions and memories,” Rodino told Fox. “So in terms of Christmas, many people don’t have good memories of the holiday. And so it does stir up the not-so-good memories.”
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Christmas music can also become mentally draining, or worse, when its played non-stop for weeks on end, according to a report by Inc.
Holiday tunes can also be a reminder to some people of all the other holiday-related stresses they might experience, such as buying presents, attending or hosting holiday parties, gathering with relatives, cooking the right meals or just trying to meet other people’s expectations.
Rodino said that people who are feeling stressed and pressured by expectations should “try to make it easier” on themselves.
“[Don’t] get so pulled into the requirements of decorating, sending greeting cards, how many gifts you have to buy for how many people,” Rodino said. “All of these categories have easier ways of dealing with it without being a Grinch.”
“It’s taking more control and doing things as you feel can fit into your lifestyle,” she added.
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Rodino also suggested that people who experience stress or sadness around the holidays – whether it’s from Christmas music or something else – try and uncover what could be causing those emotions.
“I really think it’s important for people to spend time thinking about their issues,” Rodino said. “If they do have these sad feelings during the holidays, think of a thought and kind of realize why they’re having the bad thoughts. So that they kind of know, ‘Oh, well, it’s because I had that experience or it’s because I’m having this experience.’”
“It’s always good to have some sense of why you’re feeling it,” Rodino added.
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Of course, if Christmas music stresses you out, you can avoid listening to it when you’re at home or in the car. However, if you’re at the mall or the grocery store and a stressful song comes on, Rodino suggests putting your own headphones or earbuds in and playing your own music.
“That would certainly drown out the other music,” Rodino said. “And…realize the music is not making them do anything, it’s just creating a memory…and it’ll be gone as soon as they walk out of the store.”