Every year it seems like holiday decorations go up earlier and earlier. Lawn ornaments and string lights are showing up in every neighborhood the day after Halloween, and every store has multicolored trees, plastic menorahs and nativities, and more wrapping paper and bows than you can count already. In the constant consumer world we live in, it’s easy to brush off the impending holiday madness as just corporations trying to sell us even more stuff. But whether you’re buying every string of lights you can find, or enlisting your children to help with these DIY Christmas crafts, it turns out, this early boom of festivity might actually be good for our health.
According to Dr. Kathy Nickerson, a licensed psychologist with over 20 years of experience, putting up your Christmas decorations early is good for you. “Lots of research shows that savoring happy memories and pleasant experiences lifts your mood as much as a mild antidepressant,” Dr. Nickerson told Reader’s Digest. “We also get a mood boost from thinking about what we’re grateful for, so if you’re making tamales with your kiddos or decorating the tree and thinking about how blessed you are, that’s going to make you feel great.” There is a caveat, though, Dr. Nickerson advises us. This is only the case if you enjoy the holidays and have positive memories to relive.
Dr. Gail Gross, a psychologist and mental health educator, added that for some, reliving the holidays can mean reliving painful or harmful memories. “In these cases, it’s important to recognize your feelings and establish new traditions for you and your family; offering an opportunity for fresh and meaningful memories.” Adopt one of these holiday traditions everyone should start this year and build new, positive memories. “A healthy way to move past feelings of stress, depression, and sadness is to use your energy in a positive and constructive manner,” Dr. Gross added. “Acting on your feelings through random acts of kindness can help you and your children reduce stress. And, by decorating early with your family, you can replace those feelings of anxiety and stress with the warm glow of satisfaction.”
In other words, basking in the nostalgia of happy holidays gone by or starting new holiday traditions can make you happier. However, the last thing you should do is add “get decorating done early” to your ever-growing to-do list because it’ll just cause more stress. Dr. Tamar Chansky told Reader’s Digest that “stress happens when our expectations don’t match reality. If you’re someone who wants to put your decorations up early and you procrastinate—that’s going to cause stress. If you are someone who is OK with decorating late—don’t borrow stress by thinking you should have your decorations up early. Step back and think of your expectations. You want to enjoy the holidays—you can start that now by being reasonable with yourself and finding meaning in what you do rather than making holiday decorating one more thing on your to-do list!” Just be aware of these holiday decorating mistakes before you bust out the lights and tinsel.
Whether you’re going to go full out with a musically timed light show that will put your neighbors to shame, or you’re just planning on lighting your mom’s much-loved menorah, Dr. Nickerson said it best: “The longer you can bask in the holiday glow, the more benefit you’ll get…so the earlier you start, the better!”