The season of unhealthy eating and drinking, visiting in-laws, shorter days, and colder weather, the holidays don’t always feel like the most wonderful time of the year. The winter blues got you down? Experts recommend untangling those Christmas lights, plugging in the animatronic reindeer, and inflating that giant lawn Santa as soon as possible. Don’t forget the Christmas tree and the Christmas music, either, because, as it turns out, when you put decorations up early, you’re treating yourself to a nice mental break you need.
According to a psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, hanging holiday decorations can reawaken the childlike wonder that work, rent, bills, taxes, laundry, putting together Ikea furniture, and other grownup stuff has grinched out of the inner child in all of us. And those childhood magical emotions are important to preserve because they bring us to a simpler time in our personal pasts for nostalgic reasons.
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As he explained to UNILAD,
“In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.”
Even if you’re mourning a family member, stringing up glittery lights and heirloom ornaments can make you feel closer to the people you’ve loved and lost. For people who’ve experienced loss, decorations can help them feel closer to the departed. These decorations relate to happy childhood memories and the bittersweet feeling of Christmas joy. In other words, just go with it.
“For people who have lost a loved one, the holidays may serve as a reminder of happy times they had with that person in the past,” psychotherapist Amy Morin said to UNILAD. “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”
Decking out your halls and home can give others a warm and fuzzy feeling, too. According to a study from Journal of Environmental Psychology, people often prefer neighbors who adorn their homes for the holidays. Researchers said onlookers subconsciously read exterior decorations as a sign that the family may be more “friendly and cohesive”.
In the study, participants rated the residents of different homes, solely based on photos of their exteriors. Photos of the homes of “nonsociable” residents who had holiday decor up were seen as more social to study participants. Researchers even propose that “residents who decorate for Christmas but who have few friends on the block may be using the decorations and other cues as a way of communicating their accessibility to neighbors”.
Basically, if you want to make friends with your neighbors this holiday season, hanging Christmas decorations outside is a good strategy. Other tactics for boosting good cheer include shoveling the snow off their driveway or standing under their window dressed like John Cusack holding up a stereo playing Baby, It’s Cold Outside.