Pete Bombaci describes the GenWell Project as his ‘passion initiative.’ The GenWell Project is a free, open sourced, global Human Connection Movement whose mission is to make the world a happier and healthier place by reminding people about the importance of face to face social connection and inspiring them to take action. It is a purpose led, registered Canadian not-for-profit that posts daily information, research, tips and motivation on its social media platforms to inspire people to create healthy connection habits.
“We want to be a catalyst to all Canadians to reach out for their own health or the health of those who may benefit from our outreach,” Bombaci shared when we recently connected by phone.
Now more than ever – we need connection. I don’t know about you, but I know I am missing my face-to-face connections and client visits to the farm. But while we now need to be physically distanced, we don’t have to be socially disconnected.
We need and thrive on connection — Dr. Peter Levine
Dr. Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing™ noted that the current COVID-19 pandemic and our need to be physically distant from one another can be traumatizing for many of us. He spoke as part of a panel discussion titled Healing Trauma with Somatics Embodiment and Yoga hosted by the virtual Embodied Yoga Summit.
“We’re human mammals and special in our meaning making. Our need to connect is our evolutionary buffer against trauma. We need connection and we thrive on connection. Our nervous systems are born and designed to participate in other people’s nervous systems and bodies. We resonate with others through our body experience. Social connecting in one form or another is so important for us all,” Levine explains.
GenWell Weekend Invites Connection – Virtually
Just One More is the theme for this GenWell Weekend (May 2 & 3, 2020) and it’s an invitation to pledge to get connected with one more person that you’ve been meaning to reach out to. People are encouraged to virtually connect with friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to make the world a happier and healthier place.
“When we founded The GenWell Project four years ago, we did so with the simple goal of encouraging people to form ongoing connection habits to help make the world a happier and healthier place, while reminding everyone about the importance of face-to-face social connection,” explains Bombaci. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited our ability to connect with one another, face-to-face and in-person, it has also presented all of us with an opportunity. It has reminded us of the importance of human connection and unexpectedly provided people with the permission, excuse and purpose to reach out to people virtually, whom we may have been hesitant to reach out to before.”
As noted on the GenWell Project web site, human connection is one of the best things a person can do for their mental and physical health, as it has been proven to help reduce anxiety and depression, strengthen the immune system, can make you live longer and is one of the largest indicators of happiness in your life.
“People have an inherent need to connect, but in these challenging times it is also important to realize the opportunity to supplement our human interactions through virtual technology. The newfound lack of human connection has led to an increase in the use of video conferencing and videotelephony services and platforms both professionally and personally – reinforcing that whether it is in-person or virtual, people are drawn to face-to-face connection,” says Bombaci.
While face-to-face connection is not possible at this time, GenWell Project offers these tips for connecting virtually:
- Find an appropriate platform for connecting – FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc. – familiarize yourself with it to make connection time seamless and easy.
- Talk to friends or search online for new and creative ways to connect (i.e. virtual dinner party, virtual game night, teaching lessons or skills) to connect on May 2 and 3.
- Make a point of setting aside some time on May 2 and 3 to connect with a friend, neighbor, family member or colleague while physical distancing.
- Visit genwellproject.org and “pledge to get connected”on May 2 and 3.
- Use this as the excuse to connect with someone you haven’t connected with in a while – they are likely in the same situation as you and would appreciate hearing from you.
- Identify Just One More person or group on GenWell Weekend that you think would really benefit from that connection.
Caremongering Our Seniors and Others at Risk
#Caremongering is also an organized movement that connects the people who need help with those who want to provide it in their community. It originated with a Toronto Facebook group dedicated to organizing and sharing community resources in response to the crisis. It’s also a way to assist those in communities who are at higher risk of health and lifestyle complications due to COVID-19 such as seniors.
Ontario Caregiver Organization offers these ideas to connect in a meaningful way with a senior or loved one:
- Pick up the phone and call a senior you know to see how they are doing. Sending an email or text if they use this technology is also appropriate but let’s not underestimate how much it means to hear another person’s voice, particularly if the senior lives alone.
- Offer to pick up groceries, prescriptions, pet food or other important supplies. You may be able to order food or prescriptions over the internet and have these delivered right to their door. Your offer to help will go a long way for a senior who is not comfortable with technology. If this service is not available and you deliver the necessary supplies, leave them at their doorstep instead of handing them over or bringing them inside, to ensure physical distance.
- Set them up on a device. Do you have an extra laptop or tablet? Providing a device and setting a senior up with easy to follow instructions may be the difference between a senior feeling isolated and alone or connected with family and friends. Before doing so, ensure settings are as user-friendly as possible, including enlarging text and increasing volume settings if necessary. Ensure any devices are fully sanitized before passing them on.
- Give a senior in your life your contact information and reassure them that you will be there for them if they need anything. Consider partnering with others in your neighbourhood and provide their names as well.
- Offer ideas to pass the time. Drop off a puzzle, crossword or magazine to their doorstep or suggest they take this time to go through old photos.
On behalf of our herd, we’re sending you all a virtual hug. Let’s stay connected.
About the Author
Jennifer Garland is the founder of The Mane Intent Inc. offering equine-assisted learning programs including Health and Wellness Workshops, Individual and Team Effectiveness Coaching and Leadership Development. Jennifer provides coaching, counsel and support to individuals and groups from all walks of life to create opportunities to build productive relationships, facilitate learning and to embrace change. Learn more about Jennifer’s professional experience, lectures, awards and publications here.
For more information or to book a private virtual session with Jennifer, please call 705-295-6618 or email firstname.lastname@example.org