Music can often be the soundtrack to our lives and holiday music is no different. However, because it’s so isolated to one particular time of year, it makes for some interesting experiments. According to Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dr. Scott Bea, the music is very much tied up in our feelings of the holiday.

Holiday music itself doesn’t change how you feel about the holidays, but it can act as a very powerful trigger for how you react to everything else associated with the holiday. For some of us, that’s a natural sense of joy, which can help us through the month that, for much of the Northern Hemisphere, has the least amount of sunshine. However, for those of us who stress the holidays, associating it with bad memories of unfortunate family gatherings or the stress of gift-giving obligation, holiday music can trigger a stress response.

Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash | holiday music upset stressed
Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

For the percentage of the population that doesn’t love the holiday season, the creeping of the holiday season earlier and earlier as retailers try and capitalize on the holiday shopping frenzy can be concerning.

“If the tunes start too soon and people tend to have stress responses to the holidays, it activates those stress responses early to shop or to produce a perfect holiday,” Dr. Bea says. “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.”

Short of cancelling the holiday or convincing retailers that selling their things and making money is overrated though, the holiday music will persist. There are some ways to manage stress responses. Live music is one way.

Do the holidays bring you joy? Do you look forward to holiday music? Or do you have a way of tuning it out before it drives you insane? Let us know on Twitter.