WHY EUSTRESSIN'?: LORENZO HOPPER
I know I say this all of the time, but I really did meet some dope people while I was at UNC. Weight lifting, nutrition, and cardio is not only way Lorenzo pushes others to be "Better Than Yesterday". As a Doctoral student, professor and fitness coach, Zo leaves a lasting impact on others to live healthier lifestyles. Let's see how he adds good stress to his life.
HEY LORENZO, WHY EUSTRESSIN’?
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING/ HOW LONG?
Doctoral student, Professor, and Fitness Coach...
I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Maternal and Child Health Department at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. My research interests include childhood obesity, father involvement, and health disparities. I also work as an Adjunct Professor of Public Health at both the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (2 years) and Wake Tech Community College (4 years). With the little spare time I have, I enjoy working as a part-time personal trainer.
DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN YOUR PROFESSION?
As a student and professor of public health, I think about my mental health frequently. Psychological health and mental health are dimensions of health that we discuss thoroughly in the classroom. I’m lucky in that a lot of the materials that I get to study/teach I can apply directly to my life.
WHAT UNIQUE CHALLENGES DO YOU ENCOUNTER SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR JOB THAT HAS AN IMPACT ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH THAT OTHERS MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT?
Finding the balance is tough sometimes. I have to sacrifice hanging with friends and free time to make sure that I am prepared for class, grading, etc. When my students aren’t as engaged in the lecture or their work, it can be stressful.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU SHOULD ALSO CONSIDER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WHEN TAKING ON DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES?
Early in my doctoral program I really started to burn out. A lot of changes were taking place and I just wasn’t taking enough time to make sure I was okay. Things got to the point where I considered leaving my program. I was able to take a little time off and recharge, but I definitely realized that I needed to consider my mental health a bit more.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE THOSE STRESSORS ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
I’ve found some great ways to manage my stress from day to day. Well, they work for me. First, I workout just about every day. When I’m in the gym working out, I’m able to zone out and focus all of my thoughts and energy on one thing.There are other things that I really enjoy, like taking my dog for longer walks and or putting on some smooth jazz instruments while I take a moment to relax.
HOW DOES BEING MENTALLY HEALTHY HELP IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK OR ON THE JOB?
It helps 100%. It helps me to be a better person in general. I’m not able to write or engage my students when I have too much going on. They rely on me to make our sessions engaging and informative. That’s hard to do when you’re not taking care of the mental.
WHAT DOES EUSTRESS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU AT WORK? AT HOME/AWAY FROM WORK?
I mentioned some of the self-care things I like to do. It’s really just the opportunity to become one step closer to Dr. Hopper and become a better educator. I really began to manage my work stress by changing the way in which I looked at things. I use to look at the cup half empty as they would say so everything was “distress” to me. Now I try to stay much more positive and those saw work stressors are now “eustress” for me. Chances to grow and get better.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD TELL SOMEONE JUST STARTING IN YOUR PROFESSION OR A YOUNG PERSON WHO ASPIRES TO BE THE PROFESSIONAL THAT YOU ARE?
For someone who is pursuing higher levels of education - I would just say to take things a day, paper, assignment at a time. For a young educator at any level, I would say to trust that you’re making an impact and set aside a little time for self-care so that you don’t burn out or get too frustrated and carry it into the classroom.
Any other information you want people to know about you and what you're up to?
I’m working on a lot of fitness things that I hope to share with everyone in the near future. Blog, workout videos, fitness guides... the list goes on. Stay tuned!
HOW CAN PEOPLE CONTACT YOU FOR MORE INFORMATION?