I’m an international student from India, so in addition to working at Walmart, I also work another job to support myself through school. I’m pursuing a Bachelor of Science in computer science and I’m in the third year of my program. I also have to support my family back at home, and this has taken a heavy toll on me. Over the summer I worked 80-hour weeks, and now that I’m back at school I’m averaging about 40 hours a week while also working as a part-time research assistant at the University of Prince Edward Island. 

My hectic schedule recently started taking a big toll on me.

I was barely eating any foods that were good for me or taking any time for myself. And I wasn’t exercising because I was so exhausted all the time. Being a full-time student and working two jobs isn’t easy, and the stress was getting to me. My Store Manager, Natasha Keeling, told me about the Thrive Challenge because she thought it would be good for my mental health. I needed to get into a better routine and find ways to cope with being tense all the time. I decided I’d give it a shot since my stress was getting too high and I needed to start taking care of myself.

The first step I took was sitting down with a friend and opening up about what was going on.

I was holding it in for so long and I needed to sit down and connect with someone else. My friend and I sat down and talked for a long time about what was going on in our lives. Talking it out really showed me that opening up could help. I realized that because of the stress of supporting myself and my family, I could never really enjoy any free time I had, and I was always thinking about the next task I had to do and calculating the amount of money I had to make before the end of the next pay cycle. I needed to do something for myself.

I started incorporating more greens and protein into my diet.

I was leaning on fast food for so long but I knew I had to cut back if I wanted to feel better. I started doing meal prep at the beginning of the week and trying to add more protein and veggies into my meals. My favorite recipe I’ve been making is chicken tikka. Not only is it healthy and tasty, but I can marinate the chicken for a whole week, which saves me a lot of time. 

I started feeling more energetic throughout the day and more positive.

Paying closer attention to what I was eating really helped. I even started talking to my family more, who are all back in India. We do video calls almost every day now. I’m currently trying to exercise more. It’s hard to find the time but I am trying to do it when I can. I just love that I feel healthier and more positive. 

To lower my stress, I’ve been meditating before bed.

I try to get into bed by 9:00 p.m. now. Getting at least six hours of sleep has helped improve my mood and has led to better interactions with my family and even with my peers at work. I feel like my mindset is better now that I’m taking a few minutes for myself before bed set aside for my mental health. I have a brighter outlook on life and I care about myself more. It’s still not easy to save up for my tuition, but I’d love to save up enough to send money to my parents and eventually to spend a little on myself. 

I can see now that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. 

The most important thing I’ve learned is that in situations where you feel buried with problems, taking some time to take care of yourself can help you persevere. You start to realize that you weren’t buried, but you were planted in one place. Moving forward starts with small steps.

— Kevin Henry, Walmart Supercentre #3162, Charlottetown, PEI; $2K Winner