Get the Christmas decorations out early, says psychologist
Many complain that Christmas decorations seem to make their appearance earlier each year, but psychologists say that early Christmas celebrations can be good for mental health.
A resident of the Gold Coast suburb of Currumbin recently erected a two-meter-tall Christmas tree – more than six weeks before the holiday, according to an ABC Gold Coast report. Fiona Sillar said she put up the tree to “share the love” with Gold Coasters who are fatigued after roughly two years of COVID-19.
“I just thought we needed something happy and something bright this year,” Sillar said.
Sillar may be onto something, according to Dr. James Kirby, senior lecturer in clinical psychology at the University of Queensland. Kirby told ABC Gold Coast that Christmas cheer was good for psychological wellbeing.
“It’s just a way of showing that we are part of a community, we have gone through something big; let’s celebrate the positive things that are on our horizon,” he said.
Kirby said that celebrating Christmas early can bring people together – especially during a time when circumstances enforce physical distance.
“It helps us recognise the importance of trying to reach out and connect to each other, and in some ways try to put a little smile on each other’s faces as we go through the constant doom and gloom that’s hanging over our heads,” he told ABC Gold Coast.
Kirby isn’t alone in that assessment. Dr. Marcus De Carvalho of HPR Treatment Centers in the US said that studies have shown that decorating for Christmas early has mental health benefits.
“What [sudies] have found is that just by celebrating holidays early, we actually improve our mood,” Carvalho told the American Christmas Tree Association last year. “It invokes good feelings from the past.”
Carvalho said that celebrating early can also help combat depression, since the holiday season encourages people to think about others.
“Depression is something where we’re internally focused – it’s almost like a trap door,” he said. “But with the holidays, it’s an opportunity to give and not think inwardly.”
Celebrating early can be especially beneficial in the midst of COVID-19, according to Ryan Howes, a psychologist in Pasadena, California.
“If starting your holiday season in August was your desire, go for it and feel no shame,” Howes told The Huffington Post last year.
Kirby said that taking part in the rituals of the holiday season helps instil a sense of belonging.
“There is a sense of, ‘I have the chance now to take actions that can have a real positive effect by bringing smiles,” he told ABC Gold Coast.