white-ceramic-house-miniature-on-top-of-table

The holiday season serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of human connection

As the holiday season approaches, many Canadians are gearing up for festive celebrations, gatherings and the warmth of family and friends. However, beneath the glittering lights and cheerful carols, a pervasive issue silently looms: the loneliness epidemic.

In a world more connected than ever, the feeling of isolation is on the rise, affecting mental health and overall well-being. Amid this growing concern, it’s time for Canada to consider a transformative approach to address the root causes of loneliness — the quality of our relationships and how we define prosperity.

Traditionally, economic success has been measured by growth in gross domestic product and financial prosperity. However, a global shift is occurring toward prioritizing the overall well-being of citizens as a more meaningful indicator of a nation’s success.

Well-being economies focus on holistic measures that go beyond material wealth — encompassing mental health, social connections and environmental sustainability.

Recent studies exploring the loneliness epidemic post-COVID-19 find that it is not just friends and family that play an integral role in one’s health and feelings of connection, but also a good work-life balance.

Work conditions can help mitigate the consequences of loneliness and help foster a sense of purpose if done with well-being as a priority. In fact, the top two reasons people feel lonely are social isolation and exhaustion or burnout.

Loneliness has a major impact on health and longevity. One study found that while obesity reduces longevity by 20 per cent, drinking by 30 per cent and smoking by 30 per cent, loneliness was the top factor, at 70 per cent.

With such a drastic impact on health, it is critical to transform the way our economy operates — from one based on continuous consumption and extraction to one that is focused on sustainability and longevity.

Loneliness has a major impact on health and longevity. One study found that while obesity reduces longevity by 20 per cent, drinking by 30 per cent and smoking by 30 per cent, loneliness was the top factor, at 70 per cent.

At the heart of the well-being economy is a commitment to building social capital — the networks of relationships that bind individuals and communities together.

A well-being economy is one that moves beyond constant productivity and consumption to focus on sufficiency, human flourishing and environmental quality — all key pillars of what makes communities and individuals resilient in the face of loneliness.

Furthermore, the well-being economy places a premium on sustainable living and environmental consciousness. A healthy planet contributes to a healthy society, emphasizing the interdependence of our collective well-being.

Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and initiatives like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals highlight the urgent need for nations to adopt eco-friendly policies and promote sustainable practices.

The holiday season serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of human connection. Well-being economies provide a comprehensive framework to address the root causes of loneliness, weaving a tapestry of social, mental and environmental wellness. As Canadians come together to celebrate, let us also reflect on the need for a more profound, lasting transformation in the way we define and pursue prosperity.

In the spirit of the season, let us embrace the idea that our collective well-being is the true measure of a nation’s wealth. By prioritizing the health of our communities, fostering social connections and safeguarding the environment, Canada can lead the way in creating a brighter, more connected future for all.

This story was originally posted on BramptonGuardian.com.