Winnipeg’s Vital Signs® 2022 is rooted in a framework of wellbeing where all the elements are interconnected. Much like the root system of a tree, there are several factors that keep the tree grounded and the forest thriving.
During the yearlong process of conducting research for Vital Signs® we spoke with people about their lived experiences, collected and interpreted statistics from numerous sources, and surveyed the communities we live in. These conversations and analysis revealed that there is a common element that keeps us grounded and thriving: connectivity.
Connectivity means being connected to people, culture, and community; it is a feeling of belonging, where joy, sorrow, and laughter can all be shared. Being connected to a community is vital to wellbeing. Not being connected to others leads to isolation, loneliness, and unhealthy ways of coping with the daily trials of life.
The isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic distanced us from loved ones, communities, and culture. Coping with loneliness, overwhelmed by family responsibilities, dealing with fears, and managing shortages of necessities created a perfect storm of disconnection.
The beauty that trees in nature and people in communities share is resiliency. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We can come together and re-establish connection by reaching both inwards and out, and offering support to one another.
We can only be as good to others as we are to ourselves. Assessing how we feel physically and emotionally, and talking about it is important. One of the pandemic’s silver linings has been the new attention given to loneliness and feeling isolated. Anxiety around gathering again is very real. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges affect our overall physical health. One in five Canadians will experience a mental health challenge. We are all affected and acknowledging our challenges is a step toward connectivity.
Community is defined as a group with common and shared experiences. It is different for everyone. It can be a city, neighbourhood, culture, or group with shared interests and values. Gathering together during the pandemic was put on pause. Being isolated was hard and we are all learning how to gather again. It is vital to feel like we belong to a community in order to be well. Reach out to friends, visit your community centre, celebrate your culture and spirituality, volunteer. Winnipeg is a richly diverse city – the possibilities are endless.
Supporting community connects people with one another, creating a sense of purpose and belonging for both the volunteer and recipient. It ignites passion, prevents isolation, and combats depression. Supporting community can be helping a neighbour or friend, volunteering with an organization that you care about, or donating to a cause that is important to you. Winnipeg’s Vital Signs® 2022 illustrates how interconnected wellbeing is for individuals and communities, and how the health of one can affect the other. The root systems of trees are interdependent, and they thrive when gathered together in a forest. People are also interdependent, and when we gather together, support each other, and show compassion we can create a supportive community to call home.