This year’s holiday season is presenting special challenges, as the news cycle has been dramatic for all sides of the aisle. Whether you are motivated to give and participate in your community or moled up in a blanket fort watching Friends reruns, here are 5 things to get you through to 2017 in your best health:

1) Food is the main vehicle for health, so use it to your advantage this season. Choose fresh, plant rich dishes when you can to buffer the holiday onslaught of cookies, sweets and processed temptations. Eat small protein-rich snacks like nuts frequently so you come to these sweets with a well managed appetite. Respect your food allergies through the holiday season. Here are some great tips from the Whole Foods blog: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/food-allergies-holidays

2) Exhale. The holidays are a beautiful and fun season, but they are busy and can be emotionally draining. Whether you are sitting in traffic or waiting in line, take a long, slow exhale. Your next breath in will be deeper and richer in oxygen. It will keep you from hyperventilating, slow down your heart rate and bring you squarely into the present moment.

3) Sleep. With the arrival of artificial lights, we shed our obligation to follow the light cycle, but our bodies are not fully convinced. Try turning off all lights and screens as soon as you can at night. If you fall asleep right away, you are probably running on too little rest and need a chance to catch up. Make sure your room is dark and free from stress. Leave your laptop, work papers and phone outside of your bedroom to let your brain truly off and recharge.

4) Exercise. Some days are dipping into temperatures that are too low for safe excursions, but many days in December are still warm enough to get outside. Fresh air will mitigate the challenges of dusty heating systems, closed windows and winter germs. It will also bring mood up if the holiday blues have gotten you down. Make a plan to meet someone for a walk~ people are much more likely to honor a commitment to a friend than themselves, and this busy season of visits, it’s a very pleasant way to multi-task.

5) Depression can be a real challenge this time of year, and this particular year it is worse for folks who feel affected by the election. If you are having trouble meeting obligations or caring for yourself or family, please seek help from a qualified professional. Depression can be a period of reflection and growth. Remember that whatever the world news, you have the best influence over your own health and the wellbeing of those around. Appreciate the small gestures of kindness you witness in your daily life, and take time to be gentle with those around you. Even small acts of generosity~ holding a door or helping someone who is overloaded with baggage~ will benefit you and our larger community.