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home : columns : dear harriette October 20, 2020

7/21/2020 8:44:00 AM
Recent stress causes reader to turn to alcohol

DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently my stress levels have gone up because of the coronavirus, especially the threat of potentially losing my job if another wave hits. I thought I was in the clear after things seemed to start stabilizing, but the company I work for may not be doing well, and I don't know what will happen if another wave hits. I have noticed myself turning to drinking more often than I'd like to admit in order to cope with this stress. I don't think I am an alcoholic, but I recognize that this behavior could potentially lead to dangerous outcomes. It is challenging because the people who usually support me during hard times are harder to see now, so sometimes it feels like the only option. What steps should I take to address this issue? -- On the Edge

DEAR ON THE EDGE: Take a deep breath and pause. These are stressful times, and it can be extremely difficult to know where to turn when so much is out of your control. You are not alone in turning to alcohol during this period. Thank goodness you realize that this is not a wise choice.

Whether or not you are an alcoholic can be determined at a later time, but since you realize that you have been drinking too much, I want to encourage you to get support. Since your go-to people are not around, you need other people to serve in that role. The Alcoholics Anonymous program can help you remotely during this time. What is amazing about them is that they do not require you to call yourself an alcoholic to attend their meetings. You simply need to have a desire to stop drinking. I recommend that you go to their website,, and find an online meeting to attend. You can talk about your issues in a safe and confidential space.

Beyond that, talk to your boss to get an honest assessment of where your company is headed. Ask if they think the business will survive and if your job is at stake. Also, start looking for job options that may fit your skills at a company that may be more stable. Be proactive. Good luck.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been looking for an assistant, and it has been difficult. Even during this pandemic, I find that many young people do not have a good work ethic. I have hired several college graduates and one student. In all cases, they were lazy and uncommitted. I am baffled. Why wouldn't they step it up more? What can I do to make it clear what I expect? -- Need Help

DEAR NEED HELP: Write out a crystal-clear job description that spells out the qualities you expect in your employees. The list should include things like attention to detail; strong communication skills; a positive, professional attitude; and anything else specific to your work. Ask for references, and when you call them, ask questions about how they work and what their past challenges have been in the workplace. Then offer a probationary period in which the employee must fulfill your requirements, or the job will not continue.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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