DR. WALLACE: I have a goal that I wish to share with you and your readers. I'm going "public" in an effort to hold myself accountable. I like to think that I'm a man of my word, so here goes: I'm planning to quit smoking next week on my 19th birthday. I've smoked over a pack a day for five years now. Yikes! That's so many nasty cigarettes I have put into my lungs. I'm quitting for three reasons: First, the girl I'm dating wants me to quit smoking. Second, I'm starting to exercise and get my body in shape, both inside and out. Finally, I want to put my hard-earned money to better use instead of letting it go up in smoke.
I think I can stop smoking cold turkey if I really work hard on my willpower. I've been told I should hold onto my new cigarettes just to prove I can look at them. I know I can have a smoke if I want (but I won't do it!). But my girlfriend said when her father quit smoking, he got rid of all his cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays and anything else that reminded him of smoking. What is your opinion on the best methodology to use? I'm fine with either method, I just want to succeed and quit once and for all. — Future Ex-Smoker, via email
FUTURE EX-SMOKER: Trust your girlfriend's suggestion here. I agree that your best bet is to remove all visual temptations to smoke. Get rid of all your cigarettes, including any that are stashed in your jacket pockets, the cupboard, your car or where you work. Toss out all lighters and ashtrays as well. In other words, rid your life of the bad habit entirely, and seek to make a fresh start. This is also congruent with the standard and longstanding advice of the American Lung Association.
Congratulations on making your life-changing decision. You have a tough road ahead of you to achieve your goal. You may want to take up chewing gum to provide you with a diversion, especially early on. Expect to have withdrawals and to be miserable for several weeks as you rid your body of these toxins. Stay away from other smokers as much as possible, and keep thinking how great you are going to feel a month from now.
Finally, make sure you spend a little bit of the money you will be saving on your very wise and deserving girlfriend!
BATTLING THE BLUES
DR. WALLACE: My boyfriend and I just broke up, and I really have a rough case of the blues. We dated for over a year, but recently, we both felt it was time to move on. Still, I feel miserable and do a lot of crying. How long will this depressed feeling be hanging over me? What can I do, if anything, to speed up my healing process? Normally, I'm a very happy young woman. — Blues Battler, East Lansing, Michigan
BATTLING THE BLUES: Crying is part of the healing process, but you should also seek to dry your tears and look forward to getting on with the rest of your life. Now would be a great time to expand your time commitments by taking on a brand-new activity, such as working out, joining an interesting organization or starting a new hobby. New activities will help keep your mind busy and off your recent relationship. Engaging in new activities often boosts one's spirits and creates an environment to make new friends.
Despite the hurt, breakups are usually for the best. It's normal to feel sad when ending a relationship. But I trust you have learned a great deal from this experience, and you will know much more about yourself when you begin your next relationship.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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