People Who Decorate for Christmas Early Are Happier, According To Psychology

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…at least for some, more than others. With the holiday season bringing warmth to the cold winter months, some simply can’t hold back from decorating right after Halloween for Christmas. Seeing a tree go up in November may be strange for some, but science has found that people who put their Christmas decorations out earlier are happier.

British media Unilad spoke with psychoanalyst Steve McKeown about people who put decorations out early. Find out the reasoning he gave behind early Christmas decorating and premature holiday indulging.

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Neurological Shift Of Happiness

It turns out that decorating for Christmas works on a neurological level to release hormones that produce “happiness.” People tend to feel down when the days get shorter, and the weather gets colder, as the sunlight may disrupt the body’s internal clock and can lead to feelings of depression.

Maria Orlova / Pexels
Maria Orlova / Pexels

However, according to Psychologist Deborah Serani, decorating can create that neurological shift that can produce happy chemicals and replenish the missing Serotonin levels.

She explains: “I think anything that takes us out of our normal habituation, the normal day in, day out … signals our senses, and then our senses measure if it’s pleasing or not. Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone.”

Compensating For Past Neglect

There is more to decorating than the happiness boost. McKeown attributes the feel-good effects to nostalgia. Many of us associate decorating with memories of our childhood when we were still young, innocent, and optimistic. It can feel good to go back to that state of being.

Aa Dil / Pexels
Aa Dil / Pexels

He explains: “Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.”

Releasing The Inner Child

The older we get, the more we lose touch with our inner child. The inner child is the part of your being that longs to be happy, excited, and reminds you of the more simple moments from you childhood. To activate it is to go back to a state of being that is free of society’s conditioning. To free yourself of any experiences that have given you a bleak perspective and judgment.

Denisova Irina / Pexels
Denisova Irina / Pexels

It turns out that twinkling lights and the smell of pine can activate that state. Serani describes the holidays as a “magical time'” one of “innocence” and “joy” for many people because it helps them release their inner child.

McKeown has a similar understanding and believes that the world we live in is full of stress and anxiety. Naturally, people are going to long for associations that make them happy. Christmas decorations can be that association as they are reminiscent of magical emotions and the excitement of childhood.

More Accessible To Neighbours

The benefits of decorating early don’t stop there. On top of it being a pathway back to childhood, studies also show that it can act as a warm welcome to outsiders and neighbors.

blue lights on trees outdoors at restaurant
Hakan Nural / Unsplash
Hakan Nural / Unsplash

Think of these outdoor decorations as an olive branch or, as described by the Journal of Environmental Psychology, “‘cues as a way of communicating their accessibility to neighbors.” Think of how many people drive through specific neighborhoods just to indulge in their outdoor home decor and get in the spirit of Christmas.

Decorated Homes Are More “Friendly”

The Journal of Environmental Psychology wanted to do an actual study to see if their suspicions were right. They had participants look at houses covered in Christmas decor and some that weren’t. Then they interviewed them on their thoughts.

PRODUCTION - 21 November 2022, North Rhine-Westphalia, Oberhausen: Dirk van Acken's Christmas house glows with Christmas decorations and well over 10,000 lights. Photo: Roland Weihrauch/dpa ()
Photo by Roland Weihrauch/picture alliance via Getty Images
Photo by Roland Weihrauch/picture alliance via Getty Images

According to the participants, they viewed the homes with the decorations as more “friendly and cohesive.” Perhaps doing so extends the happy and nostalgic feelings of childhood excitement to the whole neighborhood.

It’s A Frame Of Mind

There’s no denying that Christmas is a time of excitement, but according to psychology, having your Christmas tree up early can prompt a shift in hormones, making us feel happier. You deserve that.

Jonathan Borba / Pexels
Jonathan Borba / Pexels

It might seem stressful to carve out the time to decorate before it’s due, but it will bring color and warm moments to your home. After all, your home should be your safe space, where you replenish your energy and recover from the stress outside. This is how you get back in tune with yourself and stay focused on your goals and well-being to reach your highest potential.

The Most Bittersweet Time of The Year

It should be acknowledged that the holidays aren’t a happy time for everyone and that tapping into nostalgia can be triggering for some. Amy Morin, psychotherapist and best-selling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, explains:

woman with christmas hat in the mirror
Fulop Adam / Unsplash
Fulop Adam / Unsplash

“The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past, and it helps people understand their identity. It may be a bittersweet feeling. Perhaps the holidays serve as a reminder of when a loved one is still alive. Or maybe looking at a Christmas tree reminds someone of what life was like when they still believed in Santa.

For people who have lost a loved one, the holidays may serve as a reminder of the happy times they had with that person in the past. Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

In that case, decorating early can still be a positive experience of returning to a time before a loss, whether the loss of a relationship, person, job, home, or whatever it was.

It’s An Escape

While we think of “escaping” as a form of avoidance, it’s necessary for all of us. We all deserve to hit pause on the stress of every day and escape it for a moment to get back in touch with our inner child. Decorating early might do just that!

woman blows into snow out of her hands
Darius Krause / Pexels
Darius Krause / Pexels

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Aria Misty

Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.

Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]