"Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone," revealed psychologist Deborah Serani.
Have you already started humming your favorite Christmas carols while making breakfast in the morning? Are you eagerly waiting to hang your Christmas stockings above the fireplace? Or do you already have your tree all decked up in the living room while fairy lights are twinkling out in your front yard?
The season to be jolly is almost here and if you've got an early start to your holiday festivities, then you might be some of the happiest people in the neighborhood.
Christmas is one of the favorite times of the year for many, not just so that you can make gingerbread houses or place reindeers on your porch; it's the time to make merry with your loved ones. You may have a number of fond memories attached to the holiday and experts say that reminiscing them could leave you feeling happier.
"For most people, decorating for Christmas reminds us of the best times in our lives. Thinking of those happy memories stirs up happy feelings," said Amy Morin, a Florida-based psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, according to ABC Action News.
Morin also added, "When you're putting up decorations, you're thinking of happier times, times with family and friends and family traditions you engaged in. For some people it’s bittersweet -- if family members are no longer here -- but it's still a way to connect."
As the season makes you nostalgic and takes you back to some of your favorite memories from the past, it also helps you bond with people around you, owing to the decorations you put up. When people pass by a house with decorations, they are likely to associate the family with "greater sociability to the nonsociable residents", according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, available on ScienceDirect. This could lead to better chances of being integrated into the social activities in the neighborhood.
While Christmas is a season that opens up more opportunities for bonding, it also gives you something to look forward to, something that will give you a break from your normal routine.
"It does create that neurological shift that can produce happiness," psychologist, Deborah Serani, told Today Home. "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."
So, putting up your decorations as you wait for Christmas day with anticipation can be your mood-booster. "Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone," Serani added.
If Christmas has always been a happy time for you, then you're likely to be excited at the very thought of the holiday approaching. "For a lot of us, Christmas is a magical time, it’s a time of innocence, it’s a time of joy," Serani added.
However, if Christmas is a reminder of some unpleasant memories from your past, then you're likely to get irritated by the thought of it. You might even avoid going to certain grocery stories because of all the decorations everywhere. But there is a way to turn things around and make this a holiday that you look forward to with new memories associated with it.
"Start a new tradition," suggested psychologist and happiness expert Elizabeth Lombardo. "Whether it's going away, seeing a movie as a family, volunteering. It creates a new association," Lombardo went on to say. "The next time the holidays roll around, you'll subconsciously connect that time of the year with your newer, happier memories."
Public health researcher and author, Jacinta Francis, wrote for Psychology Today about how her Christmas celebrations changed after she became a mother. "I have to admit that in previous years, my attempts at celebrating the festive season have been 'uninspired', to say the least. Prior to the birth of my children, I didn’t even own a Christmas tree," Francis wrote. "However, now that my eldest child is reaching an age where he is conscious of Christmas and all it entails, I feel a certain responsibility to embrace the season and its many traditions and provide my children with happy memories of their holidays. Seeing my son’s excitement as we pass houses lit up with Christmas lights, I have felt a newfound appreciation for holiday decorations and the neighbors who make the time to decorate their homes for the benefit of both their families and communities."