How Being Furloughed Taught Me to Slow Down

Thanks to COVID-19, a work furlough forced me to slow down the pace of my life and I'm okay with that. Here's how I've let go of needing to be productive during this time.

June 20, 2020 | 5 min read
Meagan Tenyer

If you would have told me by March 2020 I'd be off work due to COVID-19 and by May I'd be furloughed, I would have laughed out loud! I have been working in administration/patient education full time at a major hospital since 2013. Working full time and the strict daily routine I had to adhere to, became second nature to me. During the workweek, I had 45 minutes each day that was not “planned” -- my free time. This meant washing dishes, cleaning and sterilizing treatments, or relaxing with a book or favorite show.

At first, the quarantine was cool. Who wouldn't want some time off from work? Quickly, I started to get antsy -- what could I be doing with my time to keep me mentally and physically busy, especially since I was choosing to stay at home and not visit any establishments?

I am serious. We did not, and still have yet to, visit a single establishment; no stores, no restaurants (not even takeout), or family gatherings. Due to severe lung disease and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, my doctor thought it was safest for me to stay home from work once the first case hit southeast Michigan. I've been at home since mid-March and now I'm furloughed through mid-September. That means I'll be off from work for six months. Sitting around doing nothing isn't ideal for my health, so I had to find things to do to keep me busy.

I know there is enormous pressure to be ultra-productive during quarantine, but I think it's all about finding balance.

No, you don't need to learn two languages or learn how to sew, nor do you need to become a master woodworker. You don't need to keep up with the latest trends on TikTok and Instagram. There is no shame in watching movies and chilling, but it's also just as important for your mental and physical health to be active and get off the couch! This will look different for everyone but it's all about finding hobbies that you enjoy. What makes you happy? You may have more time then you did before; what have you been waiting to do that you couldn't before? I realized that during this time of furlough I was left with so much time to do things that I simply didn't have time for.

Here are a few things that I've done to keep my mind and body busy:

I baked: I made my own bread, baked, and cooked less than desired before the quarantine due to my work schedule. Since being off work, I have tried many new recipes -- most of which have turned out delicious!


I gardened: I finally took up gardening! I started a few seeds indoors once I knew I had to be off work due to COVID-19. I recently transplanted the seedlings outside and am hoping to grow a plethora of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers! Tip: pulling weeds isn't for the faint of heart, such hard work, but a great workout!

I made exercise a priority: I worked out six days a week before the quarantine, but I rushed through the exercise, trying to complete it as soon as possible to fit it into my day. Now that I have more time, I've made my exercise a priority. I have finally been able to go on longer, more frequent bike rides with my husband and often I add extra workouts, such as yoga or a walk around the neighborhood. My mom sent me a larger kiddie pool and it's been a great respite from the Michigan summer sun, it's my new favorite reading spot!


I slowed down: Don't forget to slow down and smell the flowers! This slower, yet more active lifestyle has made me realize that I was working so hard to continue the life that I thought was “normal.” Being in my early 30s with low lung function, working full time after getting a graduate degree seemed like the “right thing to do.” But, I realize that there is so much LIFE outside of working full time. My life used to be meticulously planned; now I can pull weeds, bake bread, cook, or exercise on my own schedule.

Could I sustain this lifestyle forever? Maybe, maybe not. I do miss work and helping other people. But, while we have COVID-19, I will happily wait it out from my kiddie pool!


While I breathe, I hope.

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This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Meagan was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 8 years old. She has been volunteering and fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Great Strides event since the early 2000s, as well as for CF Cycle for Life since 2015. She spends her days working in patient education at her local hospital, and is heavily involved in her care center's CF patient advisory group. Her hobbies include traveling, photography, the beach, and spending time with her family and husband, Justin.

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