Christmas in October? Ho! Ho! Ho! or No! No! No!
I got a call this morning, asking if I'd go onto the Sally Pepper show on BBC Radio Derby, to talk about Christmas. But it's the 22nd October, I thought! It seems that they were covering an article written last week about how hearing Christmas music too early can be detrimental to our mental health, and they wondered what my opinion was.
My opinion is that October 22nd is way too early for Christmas, but it seems that we just can't avoid it. It's everywhere! I went into Sainsbury's at the weekend, and noticed those tins of Quality Street. I almost bought one, to 'get ahead' and then I thought against it, because they would just get eaten, and I'd end up buying another one, which would probably get eaten... and so on... so I didn't bother.
So why do some people get so excited about Christmas so far in advance? Well, we all like something to look forward to. That feeling of excitement and joy releases lovely, happy chemicals into our brain, and gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling. But what if that is at the expense of something else? What if we are getting excited about Christmas because the truth of our own reality isn't so warm and fuzzy? What if you are in a job you hate, or a relationship that has gone stale?
In those situations, you might be using those Christmas endorphins as an avoidance mechanism, to numb or dull the pain of your reality. No one likes the uncomfortable feelings that come with those circumstances, but the best way to get through them is to confront them head on. Start looking for another job, talk to your partner, start to change things. Sometimes easier said than done, I know, but when you use Christmas to avoid how you actually feel, you might start spending more money than you can afford, because of the temporary high that shopping gives some people, and ultimately, you could find yourself in debt and feeling even more miserable come January.
Another way in which the thought of Christmas can be detrimental to our mental health is when you have a pretty stressful life, with lots going on, and the mere mention of the word Christmas fills you with dread. Something else on top of an already overloaded schedule. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm, panic and ultimately anxiety or depression. My advice is stop. Stop and take the time to notice how you feel. We often avoid admitting to feeling a certain way if it is uncomfortable. We want to feel happy all the time, of course we do, but life isn't like that. Taking the time to notice how you feel and admit to yourself if you are struggling to cope with your feelings is already part of the way towards dealing with them.
There are of course people who love starting Christmas early because they love Christmas, and people who don't because they don't, and that's fine, but sometimes, the Christmas music can be a trigger within us. Notice what that trigger does to you, and if it's something you don't like, try and understand why you don't like it. What is it that's actually troubling you? Then talk to someone. Family, friends, counsellors and therapists will all help you through whatever it is that you are experiencing.
Christmas can be a very difficult time for the newly bereaved, and when I say newly bereaved, I mean those for whom this is the first Christmas without a loved one. It may be a particularly tough time for them. If you know someone in that situation, offering kindness can be an enormous source of support. You can never go wrong with being kind.
So, as I told Sally Pepper on her show this morning, Christmas on 22nd October, for me, is a no, no, no, but wherever you are on the scale of Ho! Ho! Ho! to No! No! No! if it is right for you, then embrace it in whichever way you wish.
In the meantime, next week is Halloween... I'm off to dig out my broom stick...