Survive the silly season with a seven-point plan for a healthier, more energetic you.

Exhaustion season is upon us. In just over a month, most of us will be knee-deep in last-minute Christmas plans, parties and sweltering days preparing Christmas treats and keeping kids entertained.

How are you going to manage, especially considering that you’re probably totally exhausted already?

We have a plan that will see you wide-eyed and bushy-tailed once you actually hit those last few days before 25 December.

Among all the dozens of gurus, experts, specialists and authorities (including your grandmother) who are full of sage advice on how to slow down and conserve your energy, we found one who gave particularly good, practical advice – a South African-born GP, Dr Frank Lipman, who is regarded as a pioneer and internationally recognised expert in the fields of integrative and functional medicine.

Lipman is also the founder of the Eleven-Eleven Wellness Centre in New York City, where his personal brand of healing has helped thousands of people – including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Bacon and Donna Karan – reclaim their vitality and recover their zest for life.

Here is Dr Frank Lipman’s seven sure-fire ways to ensure you have sustained energy right through to the end of the year:

1. Cut out caffeine and go slow on alcohol
A cup of tea or coffee may give you a short-term lift, but a new study shows that caffeine consumption even six hours before bedtime can have significant, disruptive effects on sleep. It’s even worse if you’re taking oral contraceptives. Caffeine blocks sleep neurotransmitters and over-excites the adrenal glands.

Alcohol is just as disruptive to sleep patterns, plus it cuts oxygen to the brain, while being high in unnecessary sugar.

2. Cut out sugar
Dr Lipman believes sugar can put enormous stress on hormones. When you crash from a sugar high, your adrenal glands kick in and release cortisol, a steroid-like substance, to help lift you up again.

The theory is that, over time, as your adrenal glands try to constantly regulate your sugar levels, they exhaust themselves, leaving you feeling washed out.

To combat this, he says you should cut out sugar and artificial sweeteners. Going cold turkey couldput even more strain on your body, so reduce your intake day by day and consider taking L-Glutamine, said to relieve sugar cravings, as the brain uses it for fuel. Or, by all means, have a piece of fruit or a fruit smoothie.

3. Avoid processed fats
Processed fats and foods are toxic to the body, particularly if you're rundown. Avoid hydrogenated fats and trans fats as they not only increase bad cholesterol, but are said to also block the uptake of good fatty acids such as the omega-3s, omega-6s and omega-9s, needed for healthy brain function, eyes, joints and skin.

4. Eat most of your food by lunchtime
The body's metabolism reaches its peak by lunchtime, slowing down as the sun starts to set. Use this to your advantage by making breakfast and lunch your largest meals of the day.

Be sure to eat most of your daily protein and fat before noon. If you eat late, include nutrient-packed carbs like fruit, vegetables and whole grains that will help you relax and detoxify while you sleep.

5. Sleep in the dark
Scan your bedroom for blinking or glowing lights – the alarm clock, the charging indicator on your cell phone, the DVD clock and timer etc. Turn these off or cover the lights. Every little bit of light can stop your melatonin levels from rising, which you need to fall asleep and reach the deep restorative sleep your body requires.

If you can’t darken your room all the way, wear a sleep mask or add blackout curtains to make it darker.

6. Practice ‘Ubuntu’
According to the concept of “Ubuntu”, what makes us human is the humanity we show each other.

It’s a world view that sees humanity as a web of family, rather than a mass of individuals. When you start to relate to those around you in this way, you’ll feel more connected, energised, and you’ll have a sense of abundance.

So, get up from your desk and connect with the cleaner, the deli girl, the guys in IT…

7. A simple exercise
Dr Lipman champions yoga and, particularly, his energising “reclining open-chest pose”. This pose does wonders to prevent afternoon slumps, while helping to elevate mood and boosting energy levels.

Stuck in an open-plan office? Book a few minutes in the conference room, borrow an unused office or duck out to a nearby park to reap the benefits.

Watch the video on how to do the pose: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwwKskPQdGE

Image via Thinkstock.




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