Go ahead, put up the Christmas lights! Science says it will make you happier
If you’re itching to break out the Christmas lights before you’ve even carved the turkey, go ahead — psychologists say it might make you happier.
The British website Unilad got us all thinking about trimming the tree a few weeks early. It reported expert comments about how people who decorate earlier are simply tapping into the excitement of the holidays before the rest of us — which makes them happier.
Psychologist Deborah Serani told TODAY Home it’s true: Decorating can definitely lift your mood.
“It does create that neurological shift that can produce happiness,” she said. “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,” Serani added.
But what is it, exactly, about Christmas decorations that triggers those happy hormones? For starters, the bright lights and colors, Serani said. Chromotherapy, or color therapy, which is thought to increase energy levels and boost happiness, might be at play. Or maybe it’s just the ambiance in general — who can resist smiling at the sight of a Christmas tree being lit for the first time? There’s even a new scientific field, devoted to understanding how our designed environments affect behavior, called neuro-architecture.
Of course, there’s also the nostalgia factor.
“For a lot of us, Christmas is a magical time, it’s a time of innocence, it’s a time of joy,” Serani said.