Shape up, it's time to party

12th December 2003 at 00:00
A few simple steps can guarantee you shake off end-of-term exhaustion in time for the season of excess, writes Roxanne Clark

"Now's the season to be jolly..." Tell that to thousands of teachers, and you may get a quick retort, or more. You may be looking forward to the Christmas break, but end-of-term exhaustion and the forthcoming festivities can be a volatile mix. Especially when what you need is a rest, rather than lots of socialising, eating and drinking.

Prepare and take control now. Subtle changes in your diet and exercise regime can have profound effects on your health - and your mood. You need warming, sustaining foods, rather than quick-fix meals and salads.

Traditional Christmas fare is perfect. Include carbohydrate-rich foods in your diet - forget all about Atkins - such as hearty soups made with root vegetables and whole grains, meat or vegetarian roasts and warm drinks.

Go for regular, gentle exercise and get as much fresh air and light as you can, to counteract the draining effects of dark mornings and evenings. A brisk walk outdoors at lunchtime, looking up, breathing deeply and stretching tired limbs will give you a natural high. And when the weather is dire, try this invigorating exercise. It's a variation of do-in, a type of acupressure, and will have you bursting with energy. It takes a few minutes and is best practised in fresh air, so open a window. Repeat it three times - and don't forget to wear loose clothing and have bare feet.

Practise at least an hour before or after a meal, and don't do it before sleeping.

* Standing with your feet apart and knees bent, rub and clap your hands, then shake them vigorously.

* With loose wrists, gently drum your fingers over the crown, sides and back of your head and face.

* Make a loose fist with your left hand and pound your right shoulder, then down the inside of the right arm. Turning your right arm over, pound up the arm from hand to shoulder. Repeat for the left shoulder and arm.

* Bending forward, bring your fists behind your back as high as you can.

Exhaling, pound down either side of your spine to the tailbone. Start again on the upper back.

* Standing up, pound your buttocks.

* Breathe in deeply and, exhaling, pound your chest making a Tarzan call.

* Gently massage your belly, rotating your palms clockwise around your navel.

* With loose wrists and fists, pound down the outside of your legs, up the inside, down the front, then up the inside again. Pound down the back of the legs.

* Standing up, kick to the right, then left, saying huh!

* Close your eyes, breathe deeply and feel your energy flowing.

If all else is failing, buy a bag of satsumas or clementines and deeply inhale their aroma while eating. Why? Because citrus aromas are uplifting, cheering, and energy-boosting - and it is the season to be jolly.

Roxanne Clark teaches Pilates, yoga and holistic stress management in business, adult education and schools. Contact:

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