Most of us spend most of our time at work – generally at least eight hours, five days a week, and often much more. Where we work is something we might overlook when it comes to our health. However, it is important – humans are empathetic creatures – our environment and the people we are with every day truly affect us. You’ve heard of ‘toxic’ environments right? Flourishing environments are way better.
Location, Location, Location
This spring I moved my acupuncture and Chinese Medicine practice to Human Potential. Its a beautiful clinic in Inglewood. The original owners of the clinic (originally called The Art of Health) built out the space with natural and non-harmful building materials. Every day I enjoy the natural cork floors, the American clay walls and non-toxic paint. Sun beams in through the windows. I feel uplifted in the place I work.
Furthermore, the results of good city planning or lack thereof affect our well-being. What kind of neighbourhood or part of the city makes you feel good? Where I work, Inglewood, is a vibrant Calgary neighborhood (and the oldest part of the city). When I step out of the clinic, I am not bowled over by the sound of highway traffic or encroached on by hastily erected concrete buildings and neon signs. Instead I see and enjoy multiple local businesses with hand crafted signage and thoughtful interiors. I feel a tangible sense of history, community and grass roots enterprise. I can buy quality food to nourish myself well nearby. Everything is at a walkable distance.
I’ve lived in some of the world’s most crowded cities, including Tokyo and Shanghai. In Tokyo, my stress levels were through the roof from the daily commute on packed rush hour trains. Not to mention the endless concrete environment. While large cities are invigorating, I think there’s a sweet spot in city size and population – I feel much healthier in a city the size of Calgary, and a neighborhood the size of Inglewood.
People Makes Perfect
The people we are with every day also affects our well-being. Humans are tribal creatures. We like to be with other people, we thrive in groups, the collective. We also have mirror neurons that mean we can feel and empathize with each other in real time. We know exactly how each other is feeling, we have the ability to experience each other’s feelings in our own cells.
I work with an incredible team – Dr. Travis Cox, Dorie Miller, Dr. Sohan Fonseka, Maha Higuchi and Trish Boyko. Overall our team environment is positive, warm, authentically human and communicative.
And, we don’t pretend to always be perfect and to never have bad hair days. In fact, we do! And, even when the going gets tough, the people I work with have the fortitude and courage to communicate honestly and openly, and to listen and support empathetically.
This is worth its weight in health gold. I can be authentic, I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not, and I can love on and be loved by my team – both hugs and honesty abound! We also recognize that our team communication is a work in progress, and worth investing time and energy in.
What you can do to make work better and healthier
If you’re working in a toxic environment, do what you can to change it. A little effort goes a long way. Try showing up to work with a little more honest, open and caring communication and see what happens.
If you work in a so-so physical environment, look at ways you can improve it. Can you bring in some art? How about some plants? Can you open the blinds to let more light in? What about investing in a natural wood desk or furniture you really enjoy, that feel good to you?