A lot of people are saying how they are in the Christmas Spirit, but there are also a lot of people who are saying they aren’t feeling it yet. Even when they do all the things they should at Christmas, it doesn’t make a difference. Now, the experts are revealing why.
Worried. While ‘Christmas-y’ isn’t an emotion, technically speaking, it does leave people worried when they aren’t feeling it when they should be. Why do people worry about this in particular? The experts are here to answer it.
Emotion. Patricia Riddell is a professor of neuroscience at the University of Reading’s school of psychology. She said, “Feeling Christmassy is not a simple emotion but a combination.” Happiness, surprise, awe and love are things people feel at Christmas time, which release dopamine and oxytocin.
Disappointment. These hormones can make people feel attached to those closest to them. However, Riddell says that all the anticipation of Christmas can lead to disappointment. “Our brain does not assess how happy we are but the difference between how happy we expected to be and how happy we actually are.”
Intensity. We often raise our expectations of Christmas, which leads up to over-anticipating and feeling less happy than we thought. When people try to make sense of why they feel this way, they lose the emotional intensity, according to Riddell and Krystine Batcho, a psychology professor at Le Moyne College.
Expectations. Batcho said, “Based on our childhood experiences, Christmas has acquired unrealistic expectations of mythical ideas.” When children believe in Santa and magic, it allows them to forget about reality for a while.
Fulfillment. “As adults, we know we can never again enjoy those wondrous feelings and beliefs…It isn’t surprising, then, that many people are disappointed when they don’t experience the fulfillment of the promise of Christmas.”
Activities. Batcho also says that people tend to do lots of Christmas activities in an attempt to get in the holiday spirit. However, people are often disappointed when they don’t feel Christmassy during or after the event is over.
Memories. “Often, doing something that seemed so amazing when we were a child is a bit disappointing when we do it as an adult. The gingerbread house we make now is nowhere near as amazing as the one we remember. Our memories are often rosier than reality.”
Obligations. “Also, as adults we’re often feeling stress as we try to meet all the demands of our regular lives and the additional obligations of doing all the holiday activities. What was once a joyful experience can now be felt as burdensome.”
Magic. Olivia normally enjoys December, but her breakup from her partner of seven years makes it difficult. “It’s so, so hard to recapture the magic. It’s different as a child, you can enjoy it for what it is…you don’t have the stress of buying presents and money catching up with you in months to come.”
Mystical. For the people that think the previous Christmas was more exciting, Brian Hughes, a professor of psychology, says it might not be the case. “It is helpful to recall that today’s underwhelming banalities will eventually be filtered from our memories, and in the future, we will look back nostalgically on 2018 with a sense of mystical yuletide wonder.”
Present. “We filter out the mundanity. In that sense, it is good for us to step back and realize the selective nature of our memories, and to not feel too sad when we compare the past to the present.” However, it doesn’t stop people from thinking that Christmas should involve doing certain things.
Sensations. Instead, don’t stick to an ideal of what Christmas should be, as that will only add the pressure. “We know the difference between fantasy and reality and can only hope to feel similar sensations. Although they’re not exactly identical, they can in some ways be richer.”