Let’s talk about you for a minute.  Where are you right now?  Are you sitting at home, zoned out in front of the tv watching some reality debacle, the news, or sports? Are your co-workers, customers, or boss on your last nerve? Is your phone ringing, email chiming, doorbell ringing?  How was your drive today? Easy peasy or bumper to bumper? Is your home quiet or are you kids/spouse/pets driving you crazy?  All these questions are about people, things and events that are all tugging on you, draining you and stressing you out.

What is stress?
In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure). Stress can initiate the “fight or flight” response, a complex reaction of neurologic and endocrinologic systems. In the long-term, stress can cause the following health problems.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

What can you do to make stress more manageable?
It may not be realistic to believe that we can live life in the 21st century free of stress. Individual wiring as well as environment play a role. There are a number of ways in which you can manage stress.  Begin by identifying  what your stressors are, commit to managing them and employ the techniques that are right for you to do so. Techniques for managing stress can include:

  • physical activity
  • better eating habits
  • talking with someone
  • some form of spiritual practice
  • getting quality sleep

or any other number of techniques.

One thing that has been helpful for me during the last few years has been Tai Chi.  Currently I’m learning the 24 form Yang style from Jim Hamilton, a real technician who cares about his students understanding the form, practicing it correctly and reaping the mental and physical benefits of its practice.


Photo MsThorns

However I owe my love of the practice of  Tai Chi to my first teacher Jan Stittleburg from whom I learned the Yang 8 form.  Her Patience, kindness and sense of humor helped ease my nerves on many days.

Jan Stittleburg

Photo: Jan Stittleburg

What do you do to manage stress? Does physical activity bring your relief? Getting enough Zs? Have you considered Tai Chi? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter or Google+.

Until next time may your chi be well and your stress be minimal.

Powered By Soul Spotlight – Damon E. Johnson

My work group moved to a new office and it wasn’t pleasant. I had this big file cabinet that the movers just plopped down into the new office and it was too heavy for me to move it on my own.  In pops, Damon to save the day and move that big thing in one fell swoop. Being his next door office neighbor we had plenty of good times and plenty of laughs as he is a great teller of tales and jokes.  Did I mention that he is also a published poet? Yes he’s that, a father, husband and a Kappa (I’m surrounded by them I tell you) and a great friend.  Introducing Damon E. Johnson in his own words.

You are?

Damon Johnson, I’m 47 years old and was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I currently work as a Public Outreach Specialist however, my passion is poetry. My first book, Rhythm in My Blues was published in 2011. I am presently working on my second book and hope to have it published by January 2015.

Tell us about your fitness routine.

My fitness routine consists of working out 3 to 4 times a week at Planet Fitness in Stone Mountain using machine weights and riding the stationary bike. I also like walking a few miles in the evenings when the weather is cool.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?

As far as nutrition goes, I have a few food restrictions due to being a dialysis patient. I have to limit my dairy foods and liquids as well as cut back on fried foods. Lately I have been eating more salads, fruits and vegetables.

How long have you been following your fitness and nutrition program?

As an ex football player I have always been somewhat of an active person. However, I realized that over the last few years or so I had not been as active as I once was. So after putting it off for several months I decided last summer that I was going to finally get it together. That’s when I started making the necessary changes to my lifestyle.DJ1

Do you have a success story or testimonial you wish to share?

Since I changed my diet and exercise last summer I have lost over 100 pounds. I can’t tell you how great I feel and how much more active I have become. Life is Good!


What motivates you to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Every time I look into my 9 year old daughter Sydney eyes I am motivated to stay on the healthy track. I need to make sure that I am around to watch her continue to grow into the beautiful young lady she is becoming.

Do you have a personal motto/philosophy you wish to share?

A motto I try to live by is… Good things come to those who wait. But only the things left behind by those who hustle…

Powered by Soul thanks Damon for sharing his successful health transformation with us and we wish him continued success is maintaining his lifestyle and in his artistry as a poet.

If you our someone you know would like to be featured in the spotlight, drop a line in the comments, Google+ or Twitter.

Photos: Damon E. Johnson

Yogi? Who Me?

Not quite but I do make an attempt to practice daily.  Injury wasn’t what initially brought me to yoga though it was a contributing factor, my head was giving me more problems than anything when I started practicing two years ago.

If 2010 was bad, 2011 was worse and 2012 was the tipping point.  I was white knuckling through depression and failing. I thought that yoga might be helpful since everything else I was doing wasn’t working.  I signed up for a yoga class at Kaiser and it was TERRIBLE.  I go to the first class and it’s packed to the gills so I had to set up in the front. The teacher, lawdamercy was muscular, tan, pretty and blonde and was going through the poses so fast (I thought) I couldn’t keep up. Feeling like a total failure, I vowed to NEVER return again but didn’t keep that vow thank GOD. Barring any ridiculousness in my work schedule or being out of town, these days I don’t miss a week. As for my instructor, Michele Jackson  I’m thankful to have taken my first instruction with her as she is the BOMB. She is so bomb that she has left the program for bigger and better things. Congrats Michele.

In terms of at-home practice I turn to the fabulous instructors of YouTube, one of which is Ekhart Yoga whom I’d written about previously.  My current favorite, who got me through the “summer of back pain”, is Yoga With Adriene  I really dig her because she isn’t all yogified.  What I mean by that is that she doesn’t say a lot of stuff that a beginner wouldn’t understand.  She has a practical, yet joyful style of teaching and is often quite comical.  She also has a really good series of videos called Foundations of Yoga in which she breaks down single poses in a way that makes it easier for the student to approach and practice.  I also really like Ali Kamenova whose greeting “namaste beautiful yogis” is a great way to start the day and Lesley Fightmaster who has a very calming style of instruction, even on poses that I find difficult.

As far as the depression, I’m good now. Yoga played a part in getting me here and I’m thankful for that.  It’s been a great way to reconnect with my body and bring some clarity to my mind.  My hope is to continue the practice into my old age.

If I ever turn into this chick, please snatch me by my yoga pants and tell me to snap out of it 🙂

Until next time, see you on the mat. Namaste.
Photo: MsThorns