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How Do Washingtonians Handle Stress?
Comments () | Published November 29, 2010
Catholic nun Sister Clare Hunter's Stress Score: 12
Sister Clare Hunter, member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Falls Church

Stress score: 12

My stress: I’m the director of the Respect Life Office. My main responsibility is making sure that schools, parishes, and those within the Diocese of Arlington have an adequate understanding of the Church’s teachings on life issues. I do a lot of talks. There’s stress in knowing that I might be speaking on a sensitive subject. It’s one thing to talk about my vocation, but to talk about abortion and know that someone in the room probably had one can be difficult.

How I cope: I pray to the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom and courage. Prayer is the ability to put your worries into God’s control. In my most stressful moments, I pull out my rosary and say a prayer. Touching it is a reminder of God being with me.

I joined the order in 1993, when I was 21. I felt a pretty intense awareness of God asking me to do this. The more I thought about it, the more I felt this sense of “That’s what I’m supposed to do.” When I was with the sisters, I felt more myself and more alive.

We play Scrabble or cards together. Mealtimes are when we unload from the day or talk about something going on in the world. Those times are very uplifting.

J. Warren Gorrell Jr., partner and co-CEO of Hogan Lovells (called Hogan & Hartson until its recent merger with the firm Lovells)

Stress score: 10

My stress: There is a lot of stress that goes with my job, particularly following the merger. Everyone is looking to see how you do. You feel a little more . . . maybe not stress, but pressure.

How I cope: I exercise religiously. I wake up every day at 5:30, come down to the gym, work out for an hour and a half, grab breakfast, and then I’m on my way. It clears your head and gets you ready to go. When I go home, I’m treated as a regular guy, not a CEO. Having a family that understands the pressure that you deal with and is flexible is incredibly important.

Alana Beard, guard/forward, Washington Mystics

Stress score: 4

My stress: Before my ankle injury, I put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to succeed. I would sometimes find myself mentally depleted before the game even started. It was a hard life to live.

How I cope: I got injured in April. It forced me to realize that basketball is only a small dot in my life. The doctor walked in the room and said, “This is a potentially career-ending injury.” And the first thing I thought about was how much I have ignored my faith. I had put basketball before God and my faith and my family without even realizing it.

The book that helped me reconnect with my Christian faith was The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. A friend came up to me after one game that I wasn’t playing in and told me, “You look so relaxed, so relieved, so refreshed.” I knew then that I was taking the right steps in my life.

Kimberly Wilson, founder and creative director of Tranquil Space yoga studio in DC and Arlington

Stress score: 11

My stress: I have two yoga studios and a clothing line, I founded a nonprofit, and I’m in graduate school for social work. I also have a part-time internship. I work about 70 hours a week. I have five Twitter feeds, one for each of my businesses and a personal one. All the businesses have their own Facebook pages and YouTube channels. And just last week I recorded the 200th episode of my podcast.

How I cope: It’s figuring out where you can insert these little doses of self-care and balance, which to me come through exercise, massage, baths, matinees, and bookstore browsing. That’s how I balance what for some other people might be stressful.

There’s this great book that I just read called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. We have 168 hours every week. If you work 50 hours a week and you sleep 9 hours a night, you still have 55 hours left per week. So it’s recognizing where that time is going. It’s all about scheduling in these things that are good for you.

Matt Zaborsky, unemployed for nine months; recently found a job with Maryland’s Property Tax Appeals Board

Stress score: 17

My stress: I was a mortgage broker for about five years until the housing meltdown. I decided to close my business on December 31, 2009. I’m 57, and I felt like I would be an attractive job candidate. Over nine months, I put out well over 50 résumés. I got five calls for interviews.

You feel like you’re a worthless old dinosaur. They’ll say you don’t have the right background or you’re not qualified or you’re not the right fit. Those are all just code words for “We don’t want to pay you this much. We’ll find someone younger.”

At the beginning, I was spending six to eight hours a day looking for work; when I got really frustrated, it was maybe two or three. Eventually 5 pm rolls around and you say, “I guess it’s time for a beer.”

How I coped: Sometimes I would literally have to walk away from my house or computer. My dog, Blanche, was a big help with that because I would take her for a walk. It was important to do something to alter my environment.

I also found it helpful just to do something—go to a networking event, take a class. I took a career seminar at the Jewish Council for the Aging in Rockville. It helped me feel productive. Plus, being with other people going through similar situations was comforting. 


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Posted at 08:54 AM/ET, 11/29/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles