In October of 2021, my blood pressure was really high out of nowhere, and I went to the doctor and found out I had hyperparathyroidism. The doctor told me it can be brought on by stress. At the time, I was running on four hours of sleep each night, and with four kids, it felt like nothing. I started having anxiety and brain fog, and the cognitive part of my brain wasn’t working as well. I thought to myself, “I’m only 42 years old. I’ve got to get rid of all this stress.”

Jana Wood, who works for Walmart in Illinois, told me about the Thrive Challenge. 

I met Jana back in 2003 when I was in Illinois, and we’ve stayed friends. She told me about the changes she made when she took the Thrive Challenge, and I said, “I’ve got to do something, I’ve got to change something.” I had just been put on medication for my high blood pressure, and I knew I needed to make better choices for myself and my family. 

My first step was stopping all the sodas I was drinking at work. 

My husband, Michael, also works at Walmart, so we both decided to stop with the sodas and drink more water instead. With high blood pressure, I didn’t need them anyway. We also decided to only go out to eat once a month. That way, we’re not completely taking it away from the family, but we’re making it special and positive. 

I have four kids under the age of 14: Sarae, Shia, Shon, and Skylar.

We started making changes as a family, like cooking together. I love the Great Value salmon baked in the oven with seasoning. I’ll ask them to help preheat the oven or lay things out on a baking sheet. We all work together. I know that college is around the corner and they deserve to have whatever opportunities life is going to give them. 

My favorite Microstep is the one where you take one night to plan with your spouse.

Michael and I started taking a night every week to plan our meals and also to go through our bills and see what we can set aside. Cutting down on drinks and going out to eat is alone saving us $2500 a year. We’ve also cut the cable and gone to streaming services instead. Our goal is to pay off our house in five years.

Sleep and exercise are helping me stress less.

I work until 11:00 p.m., but I’ve realized that I still need to get my rest. I play some Zen music before bed and then I go right to sleep. I also work out or take a walk in the afternoons. The mental benefits of exercise outweigh the physical benefits in my book. I feel relaxed after I exercise and that is my motivation. My goal is to walk a half marathon by my next birthday. 

The Thrive Challenge has made me realize that with tiny choices every day, stress can slowly be resolved.

And little things like cable and soda don’t matter! It’s the time with my family together that means the world. I am more present now and I am a better functioning adult at home with my family and at work. The kids can see it, too. I feel like I’m living again.

— Shea Day, Walmart Supercenter #1376, Hendersonville, TN; $5K Winner