As soon as December is upon us, it’s virtually impossible to escape the clanging bells and chirpy harmonies of Christmas music.
Everywhere we go we’re stalked by Mariah Carey screeching about what she wants for Christmas and Wham! continually moaning about how they gave away their heart.
We all love the classic songs but sometimes it just gets right on your wick and lead us to mutter ‘bah humbug’.
Now it’s being claimed listening to too much Christmas music can actually be bad for your health.
Clinical psychologist Linda Blair told Sky News how the cheery tunes can have a negative impact on our brains:
Music goes right to our emotions immediately and it bypasses rationality. Christmas music is likely to irritate people if it’s played too loudly and too early.
It might make us feel we’re trapped – it’s a reminder we have to buy presents, cater for people and organise celebrations.
Blair also added those who work in retail are particularly affected being exposed to Christmas music playing on loop every single day.
People working in the shops at Christmas have to tune out Christmas music because if they don’t, it really does stop you from being able to focus on anything else.
You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.
It’s no wonder shop workers always seem to be slightly more irritated and annoyed during the festive season!
Professor Joydeep Bhattacharya, lecturer in music psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, told UNILAD, shops strategically play Christmas music to encourage us to spend more:
Music works through association in the memory and so when we hear Christmas music, because of the kind of festival it is, it usually puts us in a good mood.
It taps very quickly into the memory, priming us, creating a festive mood increasing the likelihood of shoppers spending – this is why many shops play it and benefit from it as it encourages consumers to spend more as we do when we are happier.
Data suggests music does affect consumers’ behaviour. If you go to a store thinking about buying something, if the music is playing then it can play a strong role and encourage you to spend money, but if you know exactly what you’re buying already, it has no impact.
It’s no wonder I always go over budget when it comes to present buying at Christmas time.
Although Christmas music tends to fill us with cheer, Professor Bhattacharya added how it can also have the complete opposite effect:
On the other hand I understand when you hear Christmas music, the way it’s being analysed by our brain, can bring on anxiety as you start thinking about what it involves.
This is especially true if the music is played early as the brain isn’t thinking about Christmas yet.
It reminds us it’s coming and this creates a stress but it depends upon personality, age and other factors. On the whole though Christmas music does put us into a positive mood.
I won’t be turning off Fairytale of New York anytime soon then!
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.