Dear Annie: My mother and I usually have a very good relationship, but for the few months leading up to the coronavirus quarantine, and during quarantine, we have been getting on each other’s nerves. Whenever one of us does something, the other criticizes it.
Sometimes I have no idea what to say, and I can’t control my anger toward her. When I can’t control my anger, that leads to us getting into big arguments.
I realize that I have not been the best daughter at times, but I don’t know what to do to make sure that this relationship doesn’t fall apart.
— Imperfect Daughter
Dear Imperfect Daughter: Keep doing exactly what you are doing. You’re aware of your anger; you’re aware that it triggers you; and you even acknowledge that maybe you haven’t been the best daughter at times.
All of that makes you a great daughter. We can’t be perfect all the time and never lose our patience. The goal is to realize our shortcomings and work on them — exactly what you are doing.
Now for the action part. Breathwork is a great way to help calm your anger. Next time you feel yourself getting worked up, go into a room by yourself and take 15 minutes to slow your breath.
You can do this sitting up or lying down. Put your hands on your belly as you inhale and feel your stomach puff out. Then, as you exhale, let the natural rhythm of your breath bring your stomach down. Do this until you feel your body settling down.
Eventually, you will retrain your body’s response to anger and naturally be more relaxed in daily life. Who knows, maybe your mom will see how much more relaxed you are and join in.
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Dear Annie: You told Not Stinky Anymore, “Tea tree oil is completely natural, so it has a low chance of side effects.” That is incorrect. First, most poisons, carcinogens and toxins I can think of are completely natural: ultraviolet radiation, asbestos, cyanide, arsenic, botulism and aflatoxin, to name just a few.
Second, tea tree oil is safe if you’re not allergic to it. I saw many cases of allergic contact dermatitis to limonene, one of about 100 chemical compounds found in tea tree oil. Tea tree oil does have some antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity, but it clearly is not safe just because it’s natural. Peanuts are natural and good for you but can kill you if you’re allergic to them!
There are several good treatments, all topical, for bromhidrosis (smelly sweat) including tea tree oil, but I never used it in my practice because of the risk of an allergic reaction.
The incidence of positive patch tests to limonene (in tea tree oil) has ranged from 0.1 percent to 3.5 percent in several studies. It would be interesting to know how many new cases of contact dermatitis there will be in the next six months in people who read your column today, but right now there are more important things to worry about.
— Skin Doctor
Dear Skin Doctor: You are correct that just because something is natural doesn’t mean it can’t be dangerous. Thank you for pointing that out.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her debut book, Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie, features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. Email your Dear Annie questions to email@example.com. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.