Change For The Better
During these difficult times, it’s easy to lose sight of the good in the world. We’re all experiencing changes in our lives, and some are embracing change to make lives better. Meet Rachel Stewart, a graphic designer turned health care worker who has seized the opportunity to turn a difficult situation into something positive for her, her family, and countless others.
We spoke to Rachel about how the events of 2020 have changed her: her outlook on the pandemic, her health behavior, and how tracking her health metrics with her Fitbit Versa 2 has kept her going strong.
Q: Tell us how the pandemic and all its challenges brought you to this point.
A: I was out of a job back in March, due to COVID-19, and had to move back to Canada from the US. No one was hiring graphic designers. So I took this long term health care job; not in my field, in the midst of a global pandemic, mostly so I could hug my grandma who is quarantined in the facility. I’m the only person in my family that can do that right now. I wanted to help her and others, instead of just sitting at home feeling bad for my displaced, unemployed self.
I get looks of confusion when my coworkers find out I’m not a nursing student but a graphic designer. I get told at least twice a day that I went to school for the wrong profession, that I should be a nurse. I get asked why I took a job that I’m “overqualified” for because you don’t need a 4-year university degree to do this job.
Q: 2020 has brought big change to your life. Now that you’ve settled into your new job/career, how are you feeling?
A: 2020 has been full of big life changes and disruptions. I’m not sure I can say that I have completely settled in, every day brings new challenges during this time, but that’s okay. Being disrupted, challenged, and experiencing change is where personal growth happens.
Q: You’re an essential worker now. How has this impacted your health- both physical and mental?
A: I felt like my life had flipped upside down having to move from the US back to Canada at the beginning of the pandemic, which took a huge toll on my mental health. I was grieving a life and a routine that I had built over the past 5 years. Jumping into an essential worker role in the middle of a pandemic was scary. There was a lot of fear in the beginning. But, as time passed, this job became my saving grace in the midst of all the chaos. There are a lot of ups and downs that come with working in long term care, and these circumstances do not make it any easier. I try my best to find the positive in it all.
As a graphic designer, I spent most of my day sitting in front of a computer screen so I always had to set aside time in my day to stay active. I often used to meet up with a friend after work to go for a run through a park. Now, I get most of my exercise while I’m at work. Working as a PSW assistant, I am on my feet all day, reaching my 10,000 step goal for the day by 11am! I no longer have to set aside extra time in my day to make sure I reach that goal. After being on my feet all day at work, my new favourite fitness routine is to go for a bike ride around my neighbourhood with my sisters.
Q: Has your Fitbit device changed the way you keep track of your health?
A: I have been using my Fitbit Versa 2 consistently for over a year now. I use my Fitbit to track my steps, exercise, heart rate and my sleep patterns. I want to take care of myself so that I can continue to take care of other people.
At the beginning of the pandemic my stats, especially sleep, changed quite a bit. I went from having a very busy lifestyle to being able to sleep in and having to run circles around the house in order to keep moving. Then, once I started this new job, I jumped right back into a busy lifestyle again. In June, I participated in OneRun, an organization that raises money and awareness for cancer support. The goal was to move 100km during the month. I loved being able to use my Fitbit to track the distance of every walk, run, and bike ride to reach that goal.
Q: Do you plan to stay in your new field of work indefinitely, or make a permanent career change from graphic design?
A: I plan on staying in my current role for as long as the facility needs the extra help. It just wouldn’t feel right to leave for another job (even if it was back in graphic design) while they still need the extra pair of hands. Plus, I really like being able to spend this special time with my grandmother. I am still taking on some freelance design projects on the side when I have the time.
Q: Has this life change revealed anything about yourself that you didn’t know before?
A: This job has been the silver lining to these dark times for me. The reason I took this job was because I wanted to be able to make some kind of a difference, to help during this weird time in everyone’s lives. Something I’ve learned about myself through this job is that even in the midst of chaos in my own life, I can put my stress on pause for a few hours of the day to bring light into the darkness of someone else’s day, while they simultaneously bring light into mine.
Rachel’s inspirational story reminds us that helping others in these difficult times can also be the best way to help yourself. We’re proud of Rachel, and honored that she uses her Fitbit device to help keep herself going strong.