THE GREAT AMERICAN holiday season is here, and for many people that brings one thing: Stress!

The holiday season can be bittersweet for many. For some, it is the happiest time of the year. For others, it is the most dreaded season of the year, bringing great anxiety.

No matter where you fall on the continuum, the best things you can do during the hectic and stress-filled holiday season are stick with your routine (as much as possible), eat healthy, and get enough rest and sleep.

To help you stay happily and healthfully on track during the season, here are a few recommendations to keep in mind:

Exercise daily

Perhaps more than any other time of year, you'll really want to maintain your fitness routine during the holidays. I suggest you make exercise your daily first priority. Do what ever floats your exercise boat, be it running, walking, biking, lifting, yoga, etc. The important thing is to stay with your routine as much as possible, because it's good for you and will help you manage stress.

Exercise to beat stress and depression

By now, it's common knowledge that exercise is, by far, one of the best ways to manage stress and depression. Why not use exercise as your personal sanctuary - a moving meditation, if you will. View your daily exercise routine not as drudgery but as a daily mini-vacation to lift you above the grind. Daily exercise will help you feel renewed and rejuvenated; now you're ready to take on the world. Similar to stress, depression is also best managed with exercise. Why? Because exercise causes a mixture of hormones, like endorphins and opiates, to explode in your brain, which enhances your feelings of optimism and brings on the good vibrations.

Drink and be merry!

By all means, drink and be merry, but not drunk. Though some studies show a glass of wine or one drink a day (two for men, sorry girls) may help protect against heart disease, more than that can be problematic. So, for obvious reasons, avoid overindulgence.

Sweet indulgence

If there was ever a time to indulge your sweet tooth, this is it. Go ahead and give yourself permission. Otherwise, if you try to deny yourself a sweet treat, it could backfire and you'll end up eating far more than if you'd had a small slice. With portion control, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Embrace the scale

I know you hate this one, but get on the scale. Checking your weight once or twice a week is not about making you crazy. On the contrary, it's about staying personally accountable. And, no, you don't have to invest in one of those high-tech expensive ones. The old fashioned body weight scale can do the job. It's just to see where you are trending so you can adjust your eating accordingly. Though the scale is just one measurement of your health, it's an important one.

Celebrate relationships

OK, the food is terrific, but let's make this holiday season more about celebrating our relationships. Isn't that what the holidays are really about? Let's create environments with family, friends, foods, and activities that support a healthy lifestyle while also creating loving and lasting memories.

Kimberly Garrison is a wellness coach and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia. Her column appears on the first and third Wednesdays monthly.