DR. WALLACE: I am in my second year of college and am struggling to manage my time due to the many responsibilities I have on my plate. I am currently taking four different academic courses, working part time and am a member of a sorority on campus that demands a great deal of commitment. Outside of these things, my friends are always inviting me to parties and events that are fun, but that usually run all night long and leave me feeling exhausted.
Taking care of my mental and physical health has always been an important value of mine, but lately I have not had time to exercise consistently and I am getting less than six hours of sleep per night. I’m 19 and I know I’m in the prime of my physical life, but I still am concerned as to how I can best take control of my health and maintain my responsibilities without compromising my social life. — Not Enough Time, via email
NOT ENOUGH TIME: Many college students make the mistake of neglecting their health, and the consequences ultimately catch up to them in time. I would like to commend you for recognizing that something in your life needs to change for you to have the time necessary to take care of yourself and be a whole and healthy person.
My advice is to evaluate all the responsibilities that are currently on your plate and make sure that they are all things that you consider worthy of pursuing. If they are, and there is nothing that you feel you can cut back on, then I would recommend re-imagining and redefining your social life. By this I mean no longer accepting your friends’ spontaneous invitations to go on a late-night adventure. While that may seem terribly harsh, it doesn’t mean that your nights of fun have to be over. Instead, try scheduling going to parties or having nights out with your friends in advance so that you can manage your other responsibilities around these social activities and prepare for what is to come.
Taking the above advice will likely entail becoming intentional about devoting some of your nights to socializing and devoting others entirely to your responsibilities. Create a schedule that includes everything you need to do in order to manage your many commitments and to take care of your health, and with the time that is left over, plan some exciting things to do with your friends that you can look forward to and feel good about.
I understand that the idea of planning time to socialize and have fun may initially seem limiting and unnecessary, but I am confident that by doing so, you will begin to experience more stability in your life, and better health too.
CAN I EAT AS MUCH AS I WANT?
DR. WALLACE: I’m 20 years old and am excited to tell you that I just found out I am pregnant! This is my first baby, and my husband and I feel so blessed and happy. And since I received the good news, I’ve been eating as much as I can because I’m always hungry. My mom told me it was all right to do so because I’m eating for two people now. I also have a cup of coffee in the morning just about every day, and every six weeks I color my hair. My best girlfriend recently told me I shouldn’t drink coffee and should definitely not color my hair while I’m pregnant. I’m confused and don’t want to hurt my baby. Is it reasonable that I eat as much as I want, color my hair occasionally and sip a little coffee most mornings? — Worried Mom-To-Be, via email
WORRIED MOM-TO-BE: Many first-time moms need guidance, and a lot of the information available these days can be overwhelming. Let’s start with the guidance that pregnant women only need to add about 300 more calories to their daily intake.
Next, moderate caffeine intake like a 12-ounce morning cup of coffee is also fine; however, avoid much higher levels of caffeine.
There is no medical data I’ve come across to suggest that hair dye causes any fetus problems, but as a precaution you can avoid chemical hair treatments during the first trimester of your pregnancy. Above all, I would raise all your questions and concerns to your family doctor at your very earliest opportunity. Once you get the opinion of your medical professional, you’ll feel more at peace that you’re taking the correct steps toward the birth of a happy and healthy child soon. Good luck on your journey into motherhood!
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.