Science Says Decorating for the Holidays Early Makes You Happier

Lights, please.

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

Before you roll your eyes at your neighbors who have Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving (and maybe even before Halloween), you may want to consider joining the bandwagon. The reason? Psychologists say decorating early might make you happier.

One reason it feels good to embrace the festivities early comes down to the nostalgia factor. When the world feels stressful, people want to be surrounded by things that elicit happiness and bring them back to a simpler time. Putting up holiday decorations early is “simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement,” Steve McKeown, a psychoanalyst, told UNILAD. By getting a head start on the tree trimming and light stringing, people are able to revel in the positivity for longer — and who can blame them?

There’s also a brain boost that occurs when we tap into the holiday spirit. Decorating for the holidays can spike dopamine, a hormone that’s associated with reward, Deborah Serani, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist, told TODAY. “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,” she says. 

Of course, if the holidays bring up painful memories for you, then you may not be excited about harnessing the spirit in October — and that’s OK. Instead, try starting new traditions when the holidays roll around; this can help you create new associations around the festive season, say experts. Over time, you might trade your difficult memories for happier ones.

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