The holidays are meant to be a time of celebration, rejuvenation, and reconnection to those we love. The untold truth, however, is that the holidays can be a time of anxiety, stress, and isolation for many in the world. Despite our desires and good intentions to bring on the holiday cheer, it can be hard to navigate the downward spiral caused by overwhelming stress and anxiety. 

According to a report from the American Psychological Association, 44% of women and 33% of men surveyed feel stressed during the holidays. Whether triggered by increased financial pressure, separation from loved ones, or disharmony within families and relationships, negative emotional states can be further exacerbated during the holiday season, especially this year. 

The cumulative psychological side effects from a seemingly unending global pandemic have made us even more vulnerable. Well-documented conditions that can lead to depression, like financial stress, physical stagnation, and feelings of isolation, are more common than in prior years. Add the pressure to buy expensive gifts or host the perfect holiday dinner, combined with more limited opportunities to be with friends and family this holiday due to inflated travel prices or fear of contracting the virus, we need all the help we can get.

While many mental health sites and organizations offer valuable tips for coping with these conditions, and for navigating the holiday blues, few offer practical information on how to use one of the most powerful time-tested and scientifically-validated resources you already know and love – Music.  

Although it’s not a cure for everything, music is a great resource for quickly shifting your mental state and amplifying joy and positivity during the holiday season. Like stress, music directly impacts the parts of the brain that process emotions, human connection, and movement. Music even affects your subconscious mind, home of those pesky negative thoughts and old stories that fuel the fires of stress. Moreover, music is readily available, inexpensive, quick-acting, and free of negative side effects.

This season, why not remix your holiday blues with something you already love – the Gift of Music? 

Following are 5 simple ways you can Reduce Stress and Amplify the Joy during the holidays:

1. Rise and Shine

Imagine if the sun bolted into the sky each morning like the sudden switching on of a floodlight, or if every day started with a sonic BOOM. The animal kingdom might declare a state of emergency. 

According to neuroscientist Theodore Zanto – lead researcher at the UCSF Neuroscape labs, shocking your brain out of a deep sleep with a jarring alarm clock or a radio station blaring the morning news can elicit a neurochemical response similar to that of an animal being woken by a life-threatening predator. That’s a bit counterproductive to a good night’s sleep or the ideal beginning of a stress-free day. 

Alternatively, waking to a familiar piece of music can help ease you into the day like a beautiful sunrise and start you off in a better mood. While it might not make you leap out of bed (or out of your skin for that matter), it’s a good way to prevent spiking your nervous system with that neurochemical stress-cocktail cortisol first thing in the morning. 

The right wake-up music is easy to program with a smartphone or clock radio that allows you to assign a song as your alarm. There are also alarm clocks that offer more pleasant sounds (like chimes or music), that start softly and gradually grow louder the longer you take to respond.

Once you are up and moving, fill your room with beautiful and inspiring music. Create a playlist or keep a CD of music you love ready at hand. Choose music that relaxes, inspires, and puts you in the right state of mind. A positive morning-music ritual is a sure way to start your day in a better mood.

2. Set Your Daily Groove

Psychologist and author of The Joy of Movement, Dr. Kelly McDonigal, tells us that the right holiday blend of regular movement and exercise is the #1 way to reduce stress and ensure greater health and happiness. And music is a scientifically-validated way to amplify that positive effect on your mind and body. 

Motivation and Movement both come from the same Latin root, and music engages both the motor cortex and emotional centers of the brain, providing the perfect neuro-stimulator to get you up and keep you moving. 

If you have a daily exercise routine, take music along with you. A morning walk or run, even yoga or stretching, can become easier and more enjoyable if you have music as your personal companion. 

Put on your DJ hat and create your personal Power Playlist to rock your run and add some groove to your moves. It might take a little trial and error to create the mix that works best for you, so be patient and have fun with the process. Remember that the underlying theme of both music and athletics is to PLAY.

Can’t seem to find the time for that daily exercise but like to dance? Try a ‘one-song dancercise’ in the privacy of your home, sport a few cool moves as you move around your office or neighborhood, or two-step your way across the parking lot to your car. 

By combining the benefits of physical exercise and listening to music, dancing is a fantastic way to reduce stress while having fun. And to tie the bow to the gift of music, dancing has been shown to improve both cognitive function and immunity. If you are not careful, it might even make you happy.

3. Sing and Play

If you want to take the positive effects of music to another level, try singing in the morning (or all day long, if you’re so inclined). As the quote from Peter Pan goes, “If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.” So take flight with your soaring voice, either acapella, with a friend accompanying you, or along with a favorite recording.  

When you are looking for a good stressbuster or a joy-booster, singing can help regulate your breathing and heart rate, reduce anxiety, increase oxygenation to your cells, improve your immunity, and increase the release of the feel-good neurochemicals dopamine and oxytocin.  

Don’t worry about whether you are a good singer. This is not about performing or putting yourself in another stressful situation. Just let go and let your voice express itself through song. Sing in the shower; sing in the car; sing with your kids, or hum a lullaby before you go to sleep. 

In the wise words of philosopher and psychologist William James: 

“I don’t sing because I’m happy. I’m happy because I sing.”

Still reluctant to sing, but know how to play an instrument? If so, you have another stress-busting power tool at your fingertips. 

According to Dr. Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music, playing music has been shown to increase the body’s production of the antibody Immunoglobulin A, as well as natural killer cells – the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immunity system. Playing and singing music with others can help reduce levels of the undesirable stress hormone cortisol and increase the brain’s production of that feel-good neurochemical Oxytocin. 

Whether you are a well-versed musician or just beginning to learn how to play an instrument, spend a few minutes each day playing music. It can be simple scales or rudimentary exercises, a favorite song, or something improvisational. Even Albert Einstein tapped into music’s ability to recharge his brain, unleash creativity, and light up those motor synapses that refuel our engines when he was feeling stuck.

Singing and playing music are two of the best ways to clear your mind of holiday worries, amplify the joy of the season, and bring a sense of vitality to the trillions of cells in your brain and body.

4. Get Your Traffic Jam On

I don’t know about you, but one of the quickest ways that I become stressed is by sitting in gridlocked traffic and worrying that I might be late for an important appointment or holiday dinner. Add those holiday shopping crowds and lost tourists to the roadway cluster, and I feel like I’m about to come out of my skin. 

Unfortunately, getting stressed doesn’t make the time pass slower nor does the traffic move faster. Rather than limiting your commute to catching up on the latest bad news or squeezing in more stressful work calls, why not take advantage of the secluded environment of your car to practice shifting your mood through music? 

You can start by stocking your car with a collection of your favorite music, setting your radio to your favorite DJ, or having your Power Playlists ready at hand. If you have a regular commute, those long, slow drives can also be a great time to explore new music and add more colors to your musical palette.

Singing along will take the positive effects of your traffic jams to a whole new level. Being alone in the car is the perfect opportunity to let your voice sing out without the fear of anyone hearing or judging you. If you are sharing the ride, encourage your fellow passengers to join you as you explore musical ways to pass the time and get to know each other better. You can do this by simply agreeing on some relaxing background music to play behind your morning dialogue, sharing your favorite songs and artists with one another, or finding something you all enjoy and singing along together. 

You can redefine the meaning of ‘traffic jam’ by using music to help you destress, get your groove on, and lift your spirits. Don’t be surprised if you witness a few blank stares from other stressed-out drivers jealously watching your car rock to the beat and its driver — you — emulating unmitigated states of joy.  

5. Change Your Bedtime Story 

Optimize founder and optimal-living exemplar Brian Johnson tells us our best mornings start the night before. The abundance of scientific research in Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution confirms that of the biggest contributors to anxiety and the holiday blues – one that makes us more vulnerable to other holiday stressors – is a bad night’s sleep. Do yourself and your brain a big favor: shut down those blue-light-generating, attention-stealing digital devices, turn down the lights, and put on some relaxing music to prepare yourself for a more restful slumber. 

There is ample scientific evidence validating the therapeutic use of music to reduce anxiety, regulate emotional arousal, support the parasympathetic nervous system, reduce cortisol levels, improve your mood, and even decrease negative thoughts – all of which are factors that can impact the quality of your sleep.

No matter how much stress creeps into your day, you can choose to write a more peaceful conclusion to your story. Making that hour before sleep sacred is one of the surest ways to prepare yourself for a more restorative night and help you feel more refreshed and energized the following day.

Although it might not sound like as much fun as dancing across your boss’s desk or as tempting as one more slice of pumpkin pie, committing to a nightly musical evening wind-down hour might be the most important step you take for your well-being, as well as your overall mood and energy during the holidays.

Happiness is The Gift of Music

This season, let the gift of music help you turn down the stress meter and amplify the positive in your life. Explore how you can share it to lift the holiday spirits of those you love. Even if you are doing fine but want to amplify your energy and create more joy-filled moments this season, let music be the secret ingredient to enhance your holiday recipe for joy.

Why not treat yourself and your loved ones to the Gift of Music this holiday?

When you feel better, you do better; and life feels better with music. 


For more suggestions, and to learn more about improving your wellbeing, amplifying your joy, and unleashing your potential, download a free gift and check out the new bestselling book at It is packed with scientifically-validated insights and practical ways to transform your holidays, and every day, through the power of music. 

You can also receive and give the gift of music with this year’s holiday offers from Amplified.


  • Frank Fitzpatrick

    Founder of Amplified Future, Author, Music & Health Expert, Faculty of Exponential Medicine at Singularity University.

    Frank is a Grammy-nominated multi-platinum music producer, international keynote speaker, social entrepreneur, author and wellness expert redefining human potential through the convergence of health, music, entertainment and technology. He is a leading voice in the emerging Hearables market, contributing writer for Forbes, and faculty at Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine. Frank has been a delegate and presenter for dozens of international forums including TEDx, SXSW, Singularity University, BCG Digital Ventures, Perimeter Institute, the Berlinale, Shanghai Academy, Esalen, Xoogler, Facebook, ExO, Ciudad de las Ideas, Skoll World Forum, City of Hope, and the United Nations. Frank continues to collaborate with the world’s most creative artists and thought-leaders. He has created successful programs reaching over 200 million people and generating over $1B in revenues. Frank’s mission is to amplify human potential at scale through the power of music, health sciences, entertainment and technology. If you feel inspired to spread the word about the release of the book, Amplified, and the mission it serves, read more at