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Functional Girl: A column

Dear Functional Girl: We just made it through the holidays and into a new year and I’m still stressed out. I can’t seem to relax. Do you have any tips that will help me slow and breathe? — Tori L.

Functional Girl CJ LEGARE

Dear Tori: You know, I think we could all use some advice on how to de-stress these days. I know what works for me, but I don’t know if your husband would feel refreshed after dancing naked to his favorite mix tape, so I think I’ll hand this one over to my pal, Dr. Harvey Kitzman of Austin who specializes in nutritional consulting and supplementation. He has plenty of useful advice to offer on the subject.

What is stress anyway? Stress is an internal reaction to external events. It is an evolutionary response—the fight-or-flight response. The body does not distinguish between “good” stress and “bad” stress. It only knows that there is stress, and it reacts.

Stress takes a toll on our body with respect to things like sleep patterns, cardiovascular health and digestive health. Indeed, excess stress can cause our cells to age faster. We can literally “worry ourselves to death.” In order for us to function properly, we need to decrease and manage our stress levels. Here is a list of things that you can do to fight stress on a daily basis.

1. Get enough rest. By making sure that you get enough sleep, you will decrease your levels of cortisol (the hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response). Constant cortisol release can contribute to adrenal fatigue, which manifests itself in many ways, from allergies to obesity.

2. Continue or begin a normal exercise program. Regular exercise is well documented as having stress-reduction effects, especially by increasing the brain hormone levels that are involved in mood regulation.

3. Watch your alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant, and too much alcohol can affect your mood levels. Using alcohol to relieve stress can also lead to other more detrimental issues such as alcohol dependency.

4. Eat well. Leafy greens, fruits and vegetables that have deep, rich colors not only supply the proper nutrients, but can also provide the antioxidants that we need to fight free radicals, which are involved in the aging process.

5. Try deep breathing, yoga and meditation. Believe it or not, a series of deep, cleansing breaths can be very useful in temporarily relieving stress. Take a deep breath, hold it, and then exhale. Repeat this as needed. You may want to look into yoga or meditation classes. It is a well-documented fact that yoga and meditation can alleviate stress and improve long-term health.

If you have any questions about this information, or would like to learn more, contact Dr. Harvey Kitzman by email here.

Dear Functional Girl: I am a 72-year-old woman and I have rosacea. What is a good skin product to use? I live in a hot, humid part of the South. — Ruby M.

Dear Ruby: Or should I say: “Dear Nony!” That’s right. My grandmother loves me enough to show her support and write in to my column. Thank you, Nony. I love you. But moving on to the question at hand, I’m going to pass this off to Mehrin Momin, a licensed aesthetician who lives in Austin.

Rosacea is a skin condition that is characterized by redness that mostly affects the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead, or eyelids. Some may experience symptoms on their neck and chest as well. The most common signs of rosacea are overall redness, blushing, visible blood vessels, acne/bumps, and irritated eyes. There are no known causes of rosacea, but fair-skinned individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 are at a higher risk.

Currently, 14 million Americans suffer from this skin disorder. A Gallup survey found that 78 percent of those affected are not informed about rosacea, the symptoms, the causes, or the treatments. There is no known cure for rosacea, but there are treatments that can help reduce and control the symptoms. If you think you have rosacea, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to confirm the diagnosis.

If you have been diagnosed with rosacea, there are ways to control the flare-ups by avoiding certain primary triggers, such as: the sun, alcohol, spicy food, products with fragrances and prolonged exposure to hot water. Look for skincare products that are for sensitive skin, fragrance free, and hypoallergenic. Make sure to use a sunscreen that provides both UVA and UBV protection, with an SPF of 15 or higher, on a daily basis. Avoid astringents, or any products that contain high amounts of alcohol, witch hazel, peppermint or menthol. For those who wear makeup, mineral makeup is a good choice. It is fragrance free, and does not contain ingredients that can cause irritation.

Make sure to patch test any products that you purchase. If your skin reacts, note the possible ingredients that might have caused the reaction. Overall, just try to keep your skincare routine simple.

If you would like to learn more about rosacea, please visit the National Rosacea Society website here.

Functional Girl CJ LEGARE lives in Kyle with her husband, Joshua. If you’ve got a question or comment for Functional Girl, email her here. She is the creator of the lifestyles media company, Functional Girl.

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