Christmas Eve is just four-and-a-half days away, and if you celebrate the holidays, chances are your stress levels are inching up toward maximum capacity with each minute that passes.

Does everyone have a present? Should I start baking on Wednesday or Thursday this year? Should I make an extra dessert, in case Aunt Marge brings that horrible fruit cake again? Hmm…does the tree look a little bare on the left? Do I have clean sheets for the sofa bed?

WHEN is Amazon finally gonna deliver those last-minute gifts?!

There’s lots of information around the Internet about the power of music for stress management (even here at Psych Central, back in 2009 I provided a brief write up about music therapy, and earlier Jane Collingwood wrote a much more in-depth explanation of using music to reduce stress), but who has time for that?

There’re only four-and-a-half days until Christmas Eve.

After the jump, you’ll find six quick steps you can take to use music for stress relief during this often hectic time of the year.

1. Choose Your Music.

You might prefer Christmas music, or you might want everyday tunes.

Or, if you’re like me, you might want a mixture of both. I like Christmas songs when I’m doing Christmas-y things, like decorating or wrapping presents, and I like musicians and groups like Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, and – of course – Dave Matthews Band when I need to calm down.

All that matters is that you choose the relaxation or meditation music that works best for you.

2. Choose Your Arena.

Do you want the music to help you stay calm and focused while you’re doing last-minute baking? Or would you rather your tunes help you chill out during a relaxing bath or some other private place you like to meditate?

3. Buy Your Tickets.

For many, this will probably mean organizing a playlist on an iPod or other mp3 player. Or, making a mixed CD or two.

If you don’t have all the kinds of stress-reducing music you want to listen to, don’t worry. You can easily set up an account at and create a playlist filled with the specific songs you want. Similarly, you can set up an account with and create an online “radio station” that plays nothing but the genre of music you want.

4. Pack.

Gather up all the necessary tools, such as candles, incense, bubble bath, your iPod, CD player, or laptop – whatever you need. This list might even include wrapping or baking supplies, if you want to use the music to get stress relief while you’re completing those tasks.

5. Set the Stage

If taking a hot bubble bath is a source of relaxation for you, or you prefer a quiet area in your home for meditation, set up your things in that room.

If you need some help with stress management while you’re wrapping gifts, bring all your paper, bags, tape, scissors, and name tags to the area in your home where you wrap.

The important thing is to make sure you have everything you need, all within your reach, to prevent any interruptions.

6. Rock Out.

Start your music, take a deep breath and let it start soaking in, and begin your activity.

Have any more tips for using music to manage stress during the holidays? Share ’em in the comments 🙂