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Social Connection

Social Connection – It Matters 

By Dr. Lyn Pascoe

With the recent upheaval to our world, I have been thinking a lot about the importance of social connection in our lives. Dr. Vivek Murthy, a recent Surgeon General of the USA, has just released a timely book called, Togetherness.

Dr. Murthy discusses the 3 levels of human connection: intimate (partner or spouse), relational (circle of friends), and collective (community). These connections are all important to maintain in order to avoid loneliness. Studies show that loneliness and lack of social connection have negative health effects equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

COMMUNITY connections are vital. There is something deeply ingrained in us that wants to be part of a shared identity. This stems from our early ancestors where living together in a tribe was vital for survival. Sharing duties such as hunting for food, child care, and supporting the home environment proved to be much more efficient than a sole member trying to do it all alone on the tundra. Whether we live in a smaller community such as the Cowichan Valley or in a larger city, we all tend to value the connections we make with our local independent retail stores, baristas, hairstylists, and favourite restaurants.

Many of us are concerned that the physical distancing we are being asked to observe, combined with the fear that many people are experiencing right now, will deepen the separation amongst people in the future. That separation could contribute to a social recession that is just as important as the economic recession we will be facing. Social separation, however, doesn’t have to be the path we follow. I believe this is the time to take stock of how we want our lives to look. Let’s look at how can we deepen the relationships that are important to our well-being. 

I strongly believe we have to look to our local community for social connection. We need to support the local businesses and local institutions that give our community depth, vitality, and personality. By supporting local and continuing to enjoy those relationships, we will indeed be supporting our own, and our neighbour’s health.

Many of our small local businesses have worked hard in the last 2 months to change the way they operate in order to give us more choices. The strength of the human spirit to overcome challenges never ceases to amaze me! I think we can use this opportunity to choose a different way forward, to build a people-centered life and society. In a people-centered life, we prioritize our relationships and choose where we put our time, attention, and energy.

So, let’s choose local. Let’s help our businesses flourish. It will be good for all of us!

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