Dear Annie: I used to drink coffee only now and then, just for enjoyment. But since my job has become more intense and stressful, I've found myself needing at least a cup a day to keep me alert and functioning at full capacity. I don't like that I'm dependent on caffeine now. I notice that when I haven't had coffee by noon or so, I feel crabby and headachey. So I keep drinking it daily so I can get my work done. Is there some alternative? I want to be able to work without relying upon everyone's favorite bean. -- Caffeine Dependent
Dear Caffeine Dependent: If caffeine is the only thing you are trying to quit, then you are in pretty good shape. However, if you really want to stop drinking coffee, there are lots of great alternatives. Matcha tea is a very popular one. It is a form of green tea made by steaming and grinding the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. In contrast to drinking green tea, you are getting the entire leaf with matcha.
A second alternative could be lemon water. While it won't give you quite the jolt of caffeine, it will provide your body with lots of nutritious vitamin C. Chicory root and B vitamins also help with energy levels. Ginseng is found in many popular energy drinks.
Becoming dependent on coffee is a legitimate concern, and it can produce headaches and all sorts of other problems.
But my real concern is the stress of your job. Stress is a lot more dangerous than caffeine. I would have an honest talk with your boss about your workload. Do it in a very professional manner -- not coming from a place of laziness but rather wanting to make sure your body is able to do the work demanded of you at an optimal pace. Sometimes setting boundaries for yourself is the healthiest thing you can do for all parties involved.
Dear Annie: I have two best friends from college. I have good relationships with both of them, but one is much more emotionally available. The other is hard to pin down. When we want to hang out as a group -- which takes coordinating, as we've since moved to different states -- he more often than not makes excuses to get out of meeting up. I don't think he's lost interest in being our friend. During college, he was super down to do stuff with us all the time. But now that there's distance and logistics involved, we don't appear to be worth the effort. We've brought this up to him before, that it hurts us to feel like he doesn't care. His defense is that he "cares about everyone equally," so we're not given any sort of extra effort for being closer-than-normal friends. How do we deal with this? I know we can't force him to make himself available, but it is heartbreaking to watch a yearslong relationship fizzle due to something so meager as distance. -- Angry at Apathetic Amigo
Dear Angry: Best friends might not be around all the time or even most of the time, but they're there when you need them. What matters is that you can still count on this amigo when it counts. In the meantime, stop putting in extra effort to coordinate with him if it's causing you to resent him. Give him some time and space, and let him reach out when he's ready to commit to getting together. Distance -- whether of space or years -- is not enough to dissolve the bonds of true friendship.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.