Having lived in Edmonton for over five years I am not new to the dark and cold days that drag between November and February. This winter somehow feels a lot harder. I find myself more and more tired and lower energy and it’s been really tough to go five days a week without seeing the daylight. I walk to work in the dark, work all day inside, and walk home after the sun sets and it’s pitch black again.
I moved desks at work and get a lot less light in me new work space (fancy term for carboard-esque cubicle… seriously, someone leaned on my half-wall the other day and it almost fell over) and have been super busy in the past month at work, so much so that a lot of my lunch breaks have been forfeited for conference calls, research, writing, and desk lunches. It has definitely come at a noticeable price and I am taking action to step away from my desk and ignore emails and work for at least 10-15 minutes at lunch to see the sunshine!
One of the best parts of being on the prairies in the winter is the open gorgeous blue skies. Unlike where I used to live in BC, the sun DOES shine bright on cold winter days and puts a big smile on my face. Clearly, I don’t do well without it! For any lunch meetings that I had this past week I booked our ONLY meeting room with windows so we could at least see the daylight.
I was thinking about work culture, at least in my current job, and how different the policy is compared to the practice. I feel that like most modern workplaces, our senior leadership messaging and top-down policies promote workplace wellness, work-life balance, stepping away from your desk and taking time to meet your health and wellness needs. I do feel a sense of contradiction in the workplace practice however. It seems that people are praised for working late, considered ‘dedicated’ if they don’t take a break throughout the day, and get a slight side-eye for requesting a day off that isn’t part of an extensive holiday. I think it’s definitely a shifting social narrative… and perhaps I am just surrounded by a team of slow adapters. Research has show how important wellness is to workplace innovation and productivity and organizational policies have relatively quickly changed to support this, but the workplace culture is taking much longer to change.
I also recognize the responsibility I have as an employee to be part of this shift. It is taking my time away from my desk, going for lunch walks, and getting in activity throughout the day… and not feeling internal guilt about not working 9 hours straight for doing so. In my effort to set intentions for 2018, I have recognized how important this is to me and how much I need to walk my talk about wellness, activity, and work-life balance. It means surrounding myself with colleagues, supervisors, and friends who support this.
Just two more weeks until the days start getting longer again!