Photo: A mountaintop is not a shabby place to celebrate the outdoors.
Written by Shelly Forster
We’ve been spending too many hours in the office, and are beginning to wonder if we actually work for WenatcheeIndoors. Perhaps you feel the same, and are ready for a break from InsuranceCompany Indoors, RetailCashier Indoors, or MedicalOffice Indoors. Even if you’re reading this on a Monday, you’re probably counting hours until the weekend. Still, two-day weekends never seem long enough to fully recharge because they’re filled with cleaning, groceries, appointments, and all of the other life upkeep you’ve put off during the week.
In 2008 Utah mandated that state workers switch to a 4-day, 40-hour workweek to help the state save on gas and other energy costs. The unplanned side effect was that 80% of state workers favored the new 3-day weekend because it gave them more uninterrupted time to reboot. They could devote one day to chores and spend the remaining two-thirds of the weekend on family and fun.
Furthermore, new technologies have made many workers far more productive. In the last two decades computers have made productivity skyrocket – for many office jobs we now need only 29 hours at a desk to produce the same output that required 40 hours in 1990. However, Americans often still feel obligated to put in 40+ hours, and view overtime hours as a professional badge of honor earned by a dedicated work ethic. As a result, work cuts into time that could be spent relaxing, exercising, feeding ourselves healthy meals, and getting outdoors.
Caden says: "Nothing tops the zero hour workweek!"
These days many adults view their limited outdoor time as training time rather than an opportunity to recharge, be curious, or bask in our surroundings. We grab a Clif Bar, sprint a few miles on the Loop, and call it quality time outside. Meanwhile outings that actually make us catch our breath and leave us in awe of nature tend to be viewed as rare treats that we’re only allowed to enjoy after the to-do list is polished off.
Much recent attention has been paid to “Nature Deficit Disorder” in children, which has produced grassroots and national movements to get kids back outside. But what about adults? By focusing the “back-to-outdoors” movement on children, we miss the glaring fact that many adults are also naturally deficient. Adults need time outside, too, to break daily routines, engage senses, and release stress (see Richard Louv’s article in Outside magazine). What are we missing by spending the majority of our waking week at a desk, illuminated by 60-watt bulbs and a pulsing screen, instead of taking enough time to enjoy the solar radiation and fresh air we need? We’re not like plants-- we ingest our food instead of manufacturing it on-site – yet is it such a stretch to believe that sunshine may be necessary for meeting our daily production of feel-good hormones?
So, WenatcheeOutdoors wants to ask: How much more time would you spend outdoors if you had a three-day weekend every week or if you worked 29 hours a week rather than 40? How much more time would you devote to hiking, biking, skiing, running, climbing, or paddling?
Photo: A 3-day weekend is plenty of time to hike the Stehekin Lakeshore Trail.
We don’t have the chops to ask your boss to give you a permanent 4-day work week or a 29-hour work week, but we do have a plan to give you some temporary relief. We’ve decided to declare a new holiday: WenatcheeOutdoors Day. Every year, WenatcheeOutdoors Day will be on the first Friday after the spring equinox (Friday, March 21 this year). WenatcheeOutdoors Day will be a time to celebrate the final days of winter, the first days of spring, the shortened work week, and the need for more personal time outdoors. Our addiction to work is an important national issue and for the good of all it’s important to squash our super-sized achievement ambitions and behave like healthy, happy slackers.
Celebrating the holiday is simple: take the day off from work, forget about errands, and go outside for the day. Bonus points go to those who celebrate the whole day without a computer or cellphone. If your boss objects, we know some doctors who might write you an outdoor prescription for a much-needed mental-health day. Better yet, get the doctors to write your boss a prescription.
Photo: Ahhh, sweet freedom.
Tell us on the Forum or in the comment section below: How would you celebrate WenatcheeOutdoors Day? Would you go for a walk, run the season’s first 10-miler on a trail, or ski ‘til your thighs quiver? Or, would you take the day to really relax and spend it daydreaming in the foothills?
Try it. We think you’ll like it. And keep in mind that from little acorns spring mighty oaks. In the case of this acorn, one day a year may inspire you to restructure your job to take off one day a week, every week.
This story was first published 3/16/2013. We're bringing it back to life to get you all thinking about how to celebrate on March 21, 2014.
Photo: This little acorn might also inspire you to take over the WenatcheeOutdoors helm so we can get out more, too.
BONUS: Planning on getting outdoors this March 21st? Share your photos and videos with us and get entered to win some of the toughest outdoor gear around! Email firstname.lastname@example.org, comment below, post on the forum, or share on our facebook page to be immediately entered!
Also, read this story on how a few of us celebrated WenOutDay last year.