Some experts say Christmas music can be bad for your mental health

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Does Christmas music stress you out? Retail employees could have it the worst: experts
WATCH: Does Christmas music stress you out? Retail employees could have it the worst: experts – Nov 9, 2017

If you get stressed out or irritated listening to jolly Christmas music in early November, you’re not alone.

One U.K. psychologist recently said too much Christmas music can be bad for your mental health, Sky News reports.

According to clinical psychologist Linda Blair, being forced to listen to Christmas music, especially in stores, can result in people having pre-holiday stress.

“You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing,” she told the news site.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: More retailers need to join Target in the war on the ‘Christmas creep’

Pam Lansbergen, executive assistant for the Canadian Association for Music Therapy and certified music therapist, says she can see why some people may feel stressed out during the holidays.

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“I would say it can, but not just because it’s Christmas music,” she tells Global News. “With any music in a certain situation, both our minds and bodies have a reaction we’re not always in control of.”

Blair argued Christmas music reminds people to spend money on gifts, organize parties and trips. There are also a ton of chores that come with the holidays.

“If people are having a stress reaction, having them listen [to Christmas music] for a long period of time can be detrimental,” Lansbergen adds.

Author and music therapist Jennifer Buchanan said for some, Christmas music can emphasize feelings of loss, grief or money issues, the CBC reports.

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“Music affects many neural networks in our brains, many of which are a part of our emotional centres, so there’s no question that music will affect people very quickly and very effectively, either for the good or the bad.”

Retail employees have it the worst

Blair also argued retail employees may have it the worst because they tend to listen to the same music during the day.

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Lansbergen adds for people who work in retail, Christmas music may remind them of a hectic shopping time of the year, and listening to the same set of songs over and over again can be stressful.

“I can see both sides: marketing is huge and there’s value to having it, however, there certainly are real reasons why it could be hard on their employees,” she continues.

She adds because Christmas music is also small in variety — stores tend to only play popular songs — hearing the same songs over a six to eight week period can get challenging.

READ MORE: Here’s why Target’s pushback on the ‘Christmas creep’ might just catch on

In 2012, Canadian retail pharmacy Shoppers Drug Mart stopped playing Christmas music in early November, after several customers complained.

On Facebook, hundreds of people commented on Blair’s thoughts on Christmas music, many who have worked in retail.

“I use to work in retail for years and you do just tune it out and it just becomes background noise … As a shopper though, I’d prefer not to hear the music in the shops until late November,” user Kelly McCall wrote.

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“I used to work in retail but luckily I was my own boss so I never had them playing, that’s too cruel having to listen to them again and again,” user Jennifer Ryan Trathan said.

Others talked about how much they enjoyed it.

“I loved it when I worked in McDonald’s many years ago and the Christmas CD came out … [It] made working so much more enjoyable — singing along with all the songs,” user Sharon King said.

What music does to our brains

Lansbergen says music can cause all types of emotions in people, and for those who love the holiday season, listening to this music any time of the year can lead to good feelings.

“For someone who really enjoys Christmas music, it’s releasing endorphins in their brain and again, it’s because you love Christmas. When you hear those songs it gets you excited and you’re having good memories and your body is in a good place.”

READ MORE: Is Christmas music bad for your mental health?

She says because music tastes are so individual, it’s all about balance. She says retailers should consider how music can affect their employees.

“Every person has different preferred music, what’s therapeutic for one person is the furthest thing from therapeutic for another.”

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