Dear Annie: My whole life, I’ve been a worrywart, and my worries always seem to make their way into my stomach. While I’ve always experienced stressed-out “digestive issues” like that from time to time, over the past few months, it’s gotten out of control. I find myself running to the bathroom way too many times a day. It’s hard for me to get all my work done, and I’ve had to work late a few times to play catch up because I’d spent too much time away from my desk during the day.
At least for now, I don’t have to worry about my co-workers knowing what I’m up to because I’m working from home. But eventually, I’ll have to go back to the office. Just thinking about how embarrassing that will be is enough to give me a stomachache. Does anyone else have tips for calming their nerves and stomachs? — Gut Feelings
Dear Gut Feelings: The gut-brain axis has gotten a lot of hype in recent years, deservedly so. A growing body of research suggests that mental health and gastrointestinal health are two sides of the same coin. Anxiety doesn’t just irritate your bowels but irritated bowels cause anxiety, creating a sort of feedback loop. I would recommend approaching your problem from both sides. Your doctor can refer you to a gastroenterologist as well as a therapist.
Dear Annie: I love my job as a resident program assistant in a senior living community. The problem I have is that residents and managers often tell my boss half-truths about things I say or do, making me look bad. My boss turns around and yells at me. I have tried to explain, but she doesn’t care to listen. Most of the time I listen and just say “OK” when she is scolding me for someone’s half-truth. What can I do differently? — Usual Suspect
Dear Usual Suspect: First, start documenting everything that you can, saving relevant emails and text messages and jotting down details of any notable interactions with co-workers. They might come in handy the next time a co-worker or client complains to your manager.
Next, it’s interesting that you refer to their claims as half-truths (not lies), and you seem to be a common denominator in frequent conflicts. It’s worth considering what role you play in these recurrent issues and how you can right the ship. Ask your manager if you two can meet to discuss your performance and how she thinks you could improve.
Dear Annie: I was involved with a man for a little over four years. We had a disagreement over the phone, and he didn’t call me back. After about two months later, we made contact again. He apologized. We never mentioned the possibility of getting back together but still talked almost daily. After a couple months, he told me that he was seeing someone. I said, “You sure didn’t waste any time.” He said, “I’m lonely and I want someone to go home to.” He doesn’t even go home; he drives a semi and is gone weeks at a time. Anyway, he said that he loves her and is going to marry her.
Yet, three weeks ago, he came into town and got a room. I spent the night with him. Annie, it’s like I have this magnet and can’t let go. What do you think is going on with him? — Lost and Lonely
Dear Lost: If he can’t decide between you and another woman, then he deserves neither of you. That’s assuming that this “other woman” even exists. I’m not convinced that wasn’t a ploy to stoke jealousy and get you back into bed. Either way, my advice is the same: Tell him to hit the road so that you can begin your journey toward healing.
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