DR. WALLACE: I'm 17 and so is my boyfriend. He comes from a dysfunctional home. Both of his parents are alcoholics. When we go out, he brings along a beer and sometimes during our date, he drinks it.
I keep telling him that to drink beer after he has seen the damage alcohol has caused his parents is ludicrous. He says the beer helps him relax so he can cope. Your comments, please! — Anonymous, Gilbert, Arizona
ANONYMOUS: Your boyfriend is drinking the beer because he enjoys it and how it makes him feel. He apparently is using it as a crutch due to his unsatisfactory home life.
Your boyfriend needs to stop drinking and take responsibility for his life. He's headed down the same path his parents took, and it leads to perdition. See if you can help direct him to professional counseling so that he can discuss his home life and the stress he feels. Drinking is absolutely not the solution to his problems. It is unfortunate that he is in the situation he's in, but he must find his own path forward without falling into the same cycle. Strive to help him do that.
Finally, I trust that you are wise enough to never be a passenger in a vehicle when he is driving. You did not mention where your dates are held or how you arrive there, but I would be remiss in not pointing this out to you. Even one beer disqualifies you from being a passenger in any vehicle he drives.
THE FIRST TIME I'VE BEEN STRESSED OUT
DR. WALLACE: This has been a very busy year for me at home and school. I'm applying to several colleges and universities for admittance in the fall of 2020. I'm vice president of my senior class, and I'm in the running for either valedictorian or salutatorian. Also, my boyfriend broke up with me because he said I wasn't spending enough time with him. Thank goodness my faithful, cute dog, Daisy, still loves me!
Some days I feel like I could sleep for 12 straight hours because I'm so tired. I might just do that, but I've got too many things to do. Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you that I'm the pitcher on our school softball team. This is the first time in my 17 years that I've been so stressed out. It's not a good feeling. Any help in resolving my problem will be appreciated. — Chelsea, Houston
CHELSEA: Most people become stressed when they feel they have much to accomplish and too little time in which to do it.
To make your life less stressful, plan to get organized. Start by making a to-do list every morning. Write down the tasks you need to do that day and give each task a number in order of importance. Stress hits hard when an important task is forgotten or time doesn't permit its completion.
Another helpful strategy to reduce stress is to take time to breathe deeply and slowly several times a day. Inhale slowly and count to four as you do so. Then hold that breath for another count of four. Then slowly exhale as you count to eight. Repeat this in a set of four. It takes about a minute to complete the cycle, and you can do this several times a day.
Some more ideas: meditate, reach out to others to talk about your stress, laugh often, exercise and finally, be grateful. Think about all that is good in your life. These positive thoughts are calming and, when coupled with a few of the breathing exercises, could make a big difference for you. Give these ideas a try and may a growing sense of calmness help balance your days.
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.