In the last year, all I basically did was go to work, come home, cook, and go to sleep. I was exhausted every day. It got pretty rough when COVID was bad, because people were calling out of work and taking leave, and it put extra work on everyone else.

I have two kids, Tyrique and Tenaya, and I felt like I had no time for my family. 

There was one day when the kids came home and wanted us all to go to the mall or the movies together, and I just said, “We’ll go another day.” I was always too tired. And then, when another day came, it was always the same thing. I had learned about the Thrive Challenge from a pamphlet in the HR center at work, and started reading the other peoples’ stories and just thought, “If everybody can do this, then I can too.”

There was one day at work when people were calling my name, and it felt like I was the only one there to help.

People were taking COVID leaves at the time, so I was basically picking up the slack for three other people, plus my own job. I literally wanted to scream that day. I wanted to say, “I’m not the only person in this store that’s working!” So I finally said, “I’ve got to leave before I explode.” I left the store during my break, got into my car, and called my husband. He told me I could come home, but I told him I didn’t want to let everybody down. That’s when I was like, “I’m just going to stay in this car and take a minute.” And I just laid back and focused on my breathing. It was the first time I ever did that. And giving myself that minute to get it together made the biggest difference. 

Ever since that day, I’ve started meditating to deal with stress. 

On my lunch break, I’ll just go out to sit in my car for a few minutes for some alone time. I’ll turn my phone off and my walkie talkie off, so it’s just time for myself. I lock myself in the car, lay the seat back, and for those ten minutes that I’m out there, that’s when I just breathe. I even play some soft R&B music sometimes and it relieves my mind. 

Once I was less stressed, I started making other changes. 

I like the Microstep about drinking water first thing in the morning. I ordered these one-gallon water jugs, and I also got a gym membership for my husband and myself. We started going to the gym together three days a week. Usually I’m working a 5:00 am to 2:00 pm shift, and my husband works 6:00 am to 5:00 pm, so we try to make it work.

I’m finally making time for myself. 

I went from being stressed about everything to finding a way to pause during the day and just breathe through it. Now I shower and get ready for work in the morning, and I know that I’m going to feel good once I get there. There are still days where people are out and you need to pick up the slack, but now I know I can take time to breathe during my lunch break and it’s just me, myself, and I. It’s made a big difference, and my family notices it too. I’m trying to be a better person for me, for my husband, and for my kids. At the end of the day, I just want to be here to see my kids grow up and have their own kids.

— TaNeka McNair, Walmart Supercenter #5787, Raeford, NC; $5K Winner

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