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Holiday lights could fight coronavirus depression

Byron Brown / Twitter
The Christmas tree at Buffalo City Hall.

Holiday lights could be one way to climb out of the holiday depression and anxiety brought on by COVID-19. One central New York psychiatric expert said stringing more lights can only help everyone’s mood.

Dr. Krystine Batcho, professor of psychology at Le Moyne College said the holidays are often emotional triggers. They come every year, and often heighten bad memories and lead to feelings of sadness and depression. And the stress brought on by the pandemic only worsens that. But she said there are things to alleviate emotional pain. For example, lights, especially holiday lights.

"We know they are correlated and signify joy and happiness, and more importantly in this pandemic time, hope and optimism for a brighter future,” Batcho said. “We’ve known that since we were little kids growing up.”

Batcho said holiday decorations, in general, can improve someone’s mood, bringing nostalgic feelings that stimulate the same part of the brain that is activated when a person is rewarded. She said the other reason holiday lights can help alleviate depression is they are a way to reach out to other people.

"If you feel like putting out lights, do it as an act of kindness, a gesture to let others know that we are all in this together,” Batcho said. “That sense of community is very helpful to people emotionally.

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