The Surprising Effect Of Playing Christmas Music Early

illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

As soon as Starbucks rolls out their red cups in early November, you can find me with my holiday Spotify playlist blaring. Unfortunately, there might be bad news for all of us early Christmas music-lovers. An early onslaught of holiday music could be bad for your mental health, according to one researcher.

Being surrounded by Christmas music for extended periods of time can be mentally draining, according to clinical psychologist Linda Blair. While that might not affect casual listeners, it can become an issue for retail employees, who have to hear their workplaces' holiday soundtracks on a seemingly endless loop throughout the workday. As retailers start the holiday shopping season earlier and earlier, this can start to take a greater toll on their workers.

"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," Blair told Sky News. "You're simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you're hearing."

The reason you might get annoyed with a constant stream of Christmas music is the same as why you probably hate "Despacito" after hearing it played on the radio or at the club every day throughout the summer. There's a "U-shaped relationship" between the amount of times we hear a song and how we feel about it, according to music psychology researcher Victoria Williamson. So when you first hear a song you like, you really enjoy it — until you start to hear it too much, which decreases its enjoyment.

With the "Christmas Creep" seeming to start earlier every year, that gives us all a lot more opportunity to get sick of our favorite carols before the holidays even roll around. This may be just one researcher's thoughts on the matter, but it also may be another reason to be extra kind to all the stressed-out retail employees you interact with this holiday season.

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