While holiday spirit can bring joy, it may have negative effects on mental health


Darshini Shankar

Every year, by the end of October, I see Christmas decorations taking the place of Halloween ones in stores like Costco and Target. Macy’s blasts Mariah Carey before Thanksgiving even approaches. The Holiday season now lasts for nearly two whole months, pressurizing people to join in on excessive holiday spirit.

The only people profiting from this excessive holiday spirit are large-scale corporations. According to Forbes, retailers made $876 billion in the 2020 holiday season alone. As we lengthen the holiday season, we spend more time shopping for gifts and excessively decorating our homes. With these many purchases, money flows into the hands of large-scale corporations, deeming their profit from our excessive spirit. 

However, not only does excessive cheer benefit corporations, it harms us. During this long period of time from October to December, people are pressured to participate in holiday festivities; and it may be harmful for those with mental health concerns. A Harvard Medical School study found that 62% of respondents described their stress level as “very or somewhat” elevated during the holidays. These elevated stress levels experienced during the holiday season could worsen the mental health of many people.

With that said, I don’t believe the Christmas spirit itself is harmful; only the materialistic and excessive aspects of the holiday season are. Instead of focusing on buying gifts and pushing Christmas spirit into the public as soon as November began, people should emphasize the original values of the holiday. Spending time with family and friends in small-scale celebrations would benefit many people, rejecting the materialism of and overly spirited aspects of Christmas that can be harmful.

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The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Darshini Shankar at [email protected]

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