Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing…
With Christmas knocking on the door, we are only a few days away from celebrating the Messiah who saved mankind by accepting all its sins; through his crucifixion and the successive resurrection, he indeed led the man on the path of salvation and eternal life. Apart from the traditions and age-old rituals, another constituent that has truly stood the test of time is the Christmas music- as soon as the wave of lyrics hit your ears, you are taken back into the realms of infinite glee and nostalgia where the world is no more a part of this unending race and peace prevails all over. Christmas music is one of those components that evoke the holiday spirit and reminds you that it is time for you to forget about all the unavoidable ordeals of life and actively take part in this carnival of joy.
However, according to science, Christmas music is potential havoc that can wreck your mental physical health for the upcoming holiday season, especially in the case of those people who are constantly in touch with it for prolonged weeks. Psychologists too, agree upon this statement and support their assertions by drawing distinct reasons from the pages of neuropsychological explanations that correlate the immediate reaction emitted by the mind and body on hearing the Christmas music with sturdy scientific explanations.
Why are Christmas songs important?
Earlier, when the world did not have the privilege of the press and the like, people depended only on oral verses for their communication; everything that they ever learnt and were taught to them passed on to the following generations through the verbal agent and here, the Christmas carols were no exception. The Church was at the prime of this tradition and propagated that repeating these songs would imply that one is thinking of The Almighty and being grateful to him. Now, coming to the scientific objective of music, under all given circumstances, they are meant to evoke certain emotions in the human heart that are relatable, yet inexplicable. Christmas music in particular apart from praising the Lord and embedding distinct stories about the honour of Christ is often filled with the sounds of jingle bell, some merry-making chorus and several other niches of the occasion which when combined grants it a character of its own. Therefore, because all these songs follow the same pattern with hardly any room for exception, it can sometimes become too overpowering for the mind and deprive of its natural ability to think, concentrate and be productive.
The scenario can be compared to the one where you feel “too much happiness”; all your senses start freezing and the only passion you are left with is a lingering joy that is too subtle to make any positive impact on your mind or body. Now, imagine the same situation being carried forward over several weeks; it thus becomes more challenging for the works who are employed in an environment where the Christmas music plays all through the day at a high-volume and there is no escape from it.
Soon after we hear Christmas music…
Like most music, our rejoinder with the Christmas music partly depends on association and partly on the present ambiance that we are hearing them in. For almost every one of us, the trajectory connecting Christmas music with our responses begin from childhood where we had much simpler days and all we had to worry about was decorating the Christmas tree with the family, adorning our home with lights and delicious food and then gorging on the presents in excitement. As soon as these thoughts are activated in our minds, our body starts stimulating a series of different hormones including dopamine which is also a neurotransmitter- simply put, a catalyst that helps us feel good. Nevertheless, there is always a reverse side to this picture and the negative feelings start emerging mostly because both our mind and body know that the past cannot be relived and also, bring back to us those glitches of childhood we hope never occurred at the first place.
Not all us have had a pleasurable childhood, some had to experience the darkness from a very early age while the others had to face endless abuses. According to Dr. Rhonda Freeman, the vehicle of music has an indispensable impact upon the amygdala- the primary source that opens doors for several reactions and emotions with or without a streamlined balance, depending upon the situation. Therefore, when you hear Christmas music for the first time in the year, your body might form the beginning send you signals which are a part of the “reward system” to be precise and has a lot to do with associations, but depending upon the severity of it, the mind might want to adjust. Nonetheless, when the same arrangement keeps repeating itself for days, it can become both mentally and physically excruciating. There are some (with negative associations mostly) who prefer either locking themselves up in their homes through the majority of the holiday month, while others simply accept it.
The bottom line
If we are to believe the claims of Dr. Freeman, it would be clear that the reaction delivered by the body and mind depends on people’s experience as children. Even though some of us have a preconceived notion that the setbacks that we experience as adults leave a deeper impact in our lives are incredibly hard to move on from, but, it is the childhood that matters. Incidents that have reflected positive or negative reactions stay with us for the rest of our lives and as soon as we sense something similar to that or locate a unifying string like the Christmas music, our immediate instinct is to go back in time, draw references from it and link it to the present. They essentially become an inevitable part of our memories because our prefrontal cortex is in its developing stage when we are children and we tend to rely upon emotions and memory as an escape more than anything else.