DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been feeling overwhelmed by work, family, bills — everything. Recently, I have developed a skin rash that I feel certain is due to my nerves.
Whenever I start thinking about all of the responsibilities I have and what I am juggling as the eldest in a family of people who do not have their stuff together, I begin to itch.
It’s awful. I have scratched the skin on my arm and ankle raw. When I was a kid, I had eczema, but that was so long ago. I’m worried that it has come back.
I don’t have time to go to a dermatologist, though. It’s hard enough to get an appointment for the regular doctor. Just thinking about what to do is giving me anxiety.
Do you have any ideas?
DEAR ITCHY: You need to see a doctor. Your primary care physician may be able to help you, or you might even try a walk-in facility. Do your best to see a medical professional at once.
Explain your situation thoroughly, and show the evidence. It could be as simple as getting a prescription for a soothing ointment, or you may find you need other support.
On your own, build self-care activities into your schedule. Can you take a daily walk, even if it’s short? Add more water to your routine.
Pick a hobby that can occupy some of your attention. Carve out some alone time when you feel less pressure to perform. Slowly deal with each of your duties so that you can get a handle on things.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a neighbor with two young children. She is sweet, and so are they. I am single with no kids.
Occasionally, my neighbor invites me over to visit with her and her family. That’s fine for a few minutes, but I mostly like to be by myself.
Recently, she knocked on my door and asked if I would watch her kids for a few minutes while she went to the grocery store to pick up some food. How could I say no? She was gone for nearly an hour, which was hard for me. I have hardly ever spent time around kids.
She was grateful. I thought that was that. But she has since asked me a few more times to watch her kids.
I do not want to make this a habit. I like my peace when I get home from work. I can be neighborly up to a point, but I am not interested in being a babysitter. How can I tell her without hurting her feelings?
DEAR BOUNDARIES: You have to speak to her directly. Let her know that you like her and her family, but you are not a babysitter and do not feel comfortable with that responsibility. Acknowledge that you know she needs help from time to time. Figure out how you can help differently.
For example, when you go to the grocery store, ask her what she needs. Perhaps you can pick up a few items for her so that she doesn’t need to run out and leave her kids with you.
Also, while it seems like a terrible imposition right now, try to look at this moment in time with fresh eyes. Your intermittent support of this young family means the world to her and may not be too inconvenient for you on occasion. Think about it.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.