It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Some may cherish the holidays, while others may cringe. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, we here at Void are no Grinches. Sure Stress-mas can overwhelm us all: too many gifts to buy, too many office parties to attend (and pretend to be cheery at), too much damn holiday music everywhere.

Still, we’re not into coal in our stocking, so we’ve decided to share some tips and tricks to help navigate the holidaze and make sure that we all welcome the new year intact. In this series, we’ll touch on some of the more annoying parts of the holidays and talk to some pros about how to cope (not mope) this season.

True Story in 3…2…1:

I walked into a chain sporting goods store this past Saturday and as soon as I entered I heard the head-splitting jing-jing-jingling of holiday music. I did and immediate 180° and split. Nope. Uh uh. Negative. I just wasn’t ready for the holiday cheer to penetrate my soul.

I know I’m not alone in despising holiday music played too early in the year.  Like many of you, I enjoy the well-placed holiday song that takes me back to childhood wonder. But, why does the same tired soundtrack seem to start at the end of summer?

There are volumes of research regarding the ill-effects of too much holiday music (probably written by folks just as tired of holiday music as the rest of the world). I always think of those poor, unfortunate souls working in offices and stores that are compelled to torture employees with the same 12 songs. Ouch!

Former retail store manager Maureen Bush recalls the madness of holiday music. “I was a full-time manager, so basically I heard the same playlist every day for two months. Even with us trying to find ‘good’ (holiday) music, there are still only so many songs, so we heard a lot of the same stuff over and over again,” Bush says. She listened to her favorite non-holiday songs on her way to and from work in order to mentally prepare for the torture.

Bush would say to her employees, “leave the building for your breaks, even if you just sit outside.” When opening and closing the store, Bush would turn on regular music to give herself and her staff a much needed break from the holiday tunes.

Steven Montesinos is a licensed mental health counselor with a thriving practice in Jacksonville.  He offered us some insight into how to deal with the repetitive playlists and the stress and fatigue it can cause. “I believe the answer may be complex and is definitely unique for each individual and if having to listen to repetitious holiday music is both unpleasant and beyond your control, you’ll perceive the experience as more distressing,” Montesinos says.

“From yet another perspective, if you don’t identify with holiday music or the traditions and practices associated with it, it could be challenging to have to continuously tolerate listening to it,” he says, explaining the stress and fatigue.

But, what is a tired soul to do without transferring from nice to naughty?

“This can be challenging. Unfortunately, we are not built to easily adapt to unwanted or annoying sounds, so limiting your exposure to the music is your best bet,” Montesinos says. “If you feel comfortable, you could try speaking with your supervisor to see if there are options to allow you to work from a location that is music-free. If you are not required to interact with others, wearing noise-canceling headphones or listening to another source of music or ambient noise may help.”

“If you cannot limit your exposure, you could try practicing mindfulness techniques which will help you to experience each present moment free from judgment, as well as stimulate relaxation and a state of internal peace.”

“Finally, invest your energy in working to control your environment outside of work, including limiting your exposure to holiday music. Be sure you also use your downtime to recover and restore yourself psychologically to recover from the stresses of the workday.”

If the soundtrack of the season has you spent, don’t fret. You are not alone this holiday. No need to pout.  No need to cry. No need to shout, I’m telling you why… you can listen to metal versions of holiday songs here. Ho, ho, ho.