Time spent with coworkers, neighbours, friends helps combat isolation
Many Canadians are feeling lonely during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report.
Six in 10 (60 per cent) are lonely many times during the week while 46 per cent say they feel lonely every day, finds the survey from the GenWell Project and the University of Victoria.
"Over the past year and a half, we see that loneliness has escalated among Canadians, more so with pandemic-related anxieties and burnout," says Kiffer Card, social and behavioural epidemiologist with the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria. "As a result, 82 per cent of people who reported being lonely have a low overall life satisfaction. Therefore, developing or maintaining strong social connections is even more imperative as we enter a post-pandemic Canada."
The rate of loneliness across all generations is above 45 per cent, with the Gen Z reporting the highest rates of loneliness at 66 per cent while those born from 1925 to 1945 reporting a loneliness rate of 56 per cent.
Feelings of isolation and stress might be rising, especially among Canadians working at home, according to a previous report.
What do Canadians need to address this issue? Human connection, according to the survey of 3,800 participants conducted April 27 to June 1, 2021.
Over 90 per cent of Canadians indicate they want to spend at least an hour with their friends and family, while 75 per cent say they want to spend at least an hour with their coworkers and neighbours in a week.
Four in 10 Canadians also want to have more friends.
Also, those who spent less than an hour with their friends in the past week were 1.28 times less likely to be lonely, while those who spent five or more hours with friends in the past week were 1.62 times less likely to be lonely.
Meanwhile, those who spent less than an hour with their coworkers in the past week were 1.36 times less likely to be lonely and those who spent five or more hours with coworkers in the past week were 1.73 times less likely to be lonely.
Those who spent five or more hours with family in the past week were 1.60 times less likely to be lonely.
Seventy-two per cent of Canadians also report that time spent with neighbours is meaningful and fulfilling, and those who spent one to four hours with neighbours in the past week were 3.03 times less likely to be lonely.
"The best medicine for people is people. Social connections have been shown to reduce loneliness, anxiety and depression, strengthen our immune system and self-confidence, help us develop empathy and compassion for others, and increase our chances of living longer by up to 50 per cent,” says Pete Bombaci, founder of the GenWell Project. "If we all make the effort to connect with others on a daily basis, we can have an impact on our own health and wellness, and that of those we connect with."
With millions of people still working from home more than a year into the pandemic – and potentially beyond – it’s critical that employers leverage the right technology to boost employee engagement, according to another report.