Music and Mental Health: The Holidays Edition

Music is the medicine of the mind.
— John A. Logan

With the holidays coming up soon, starting with Thanksgiving, many people will feel depressed or suffer from clinical depression. A period that is supposed to be joyful is, instead, for many of us, filled with stressful end-of-year deadlines, memories of loved ones who left us too soon, dysfunctional families, excessive and unhealthy eating and drinking, break-ups, seasonal affective disorder, and loneliness.

The great Leonard Cohen once said: "Music is the emotional life of most people," and he could not have been more right! One way to cope with the "holiday blues" is through music. In fact, music is key to emotional regulation, and listening to it, particularly miserable lyrics and sad tunes, can also help us find a positive outlook on our own situation. Music can  allow us to process our emotions and discover our feelings. After all, one of the only activities that activates, stimulates, and uses the entire brain is music !

So can Bubblé, Sinatra, Mariah, and Wham! cure your holiday blues ? Yes, but to a certain extent. According to Dr. Victoria Williamson from the University of London, Christmas music can actually be draining if listened to too often. Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, recently argued that Christmas songs can make you feel trapped. "It is a reminder that we have to buy presents," she says, "cater for people, and organize celebrations." Also, if you are working in retail, a restaurant, or in a hotel, chances are that you will be exposed to constant Christmas music on this jolly holiday season, and your mental health will most likely be negatively affected. It is indeed a very hard period to deal with for the retail, restaurant, and hospitality workforces: not only do they have to work extra hours and assist more clients, but also, hearing the same popular Christmas songs over a period of six to eight weeks, while doing so, becomes very challenging.

At MyTimeNews, "All we want for Christmas is..." for you to be healthy and jolly ! And so, if you form part of the 45% of North Americans who dread the festive season, start listening to music to uplift your spirit. But, whatever you do, do not get over-enthusiastic about Christmas songs and always remember to be extra kind to yourself -- especially if you happen to work in retail.