Today is my birthday! As well as celebrating, I thought I’d mark it with a birthday-themed post. Some people love it when their birthdays come around, whereas others struggle with the fuss and attention that can come with it. This week’s post won’t be focusing on loving or hating birthdays – rather, as with all 15 minute wellbeing blogs, it will use birthdays as a way to improve our wellbeing.
Celebrating our birthdays dates back to the Romans, who honoured their friends and family annually, on their date of birth with gifts, feasts and prayers. Birthdays are socially significant events: they can help us feel valued and unique; help us understand ourselves and feel supported – all of which are good for our wellbeing.
Amongst young adults, spending their birthdays with friends, family and/or loved ones was more important than receiving presents. Therefore, birthdays are an ideal opportunity to connect with others and this social aspect may be linked to people feeling more loved on their birthdays.
However, birthday celebrations can be stressful for some of us. Although the majority of us want to celebrate with others, almost half (49%) would prefer someone else to organise our birthday party. The pressure of putting on a good party and having fun could actually be detrimental to our wellbeing. If you start to feel stressed when organising your birthday party, ask for help (or ask someone else to do it for you!)
A fresh start
Birthdays are often seen as a ‘fresh start’ where we have higher hopes about the future. As a result, around our birthdays (or other fresh start events such as a New Year) we are more motivated to change our behaviour and/or achieve our goals.
A unique study showed just how powerful birthdays can be at changing our behaviour. When offenders received a hand written birthday card with a message stating that their birthday was a fresh start to move away from a life of crime, they were 56% more likely to seek support to change, compared to offenders who received a letter on a random day (not their birthday). If people with a criminal history can use their birthdays to make a fresh start, why can’t everyone?
How many people are born each day?
360,000 births happen each day around the world, which means we each share our birthday with approximately 360,000 other people!
In the UK, more people are born in late September and early October than any other months of the year. This trend has also been shown in the USA and New Zealand – so if you are born in late September or early October, you may share your birthday with even more people. It is likely that this trend in birth dates is due to parents planning to have their children at the beginning of the school year. Also, this time of year is roughly 9 months after Christmas, a popular time to try for a baby.
Who do I share my birthday with?
This week’s activity is about learning who we share our birthdays with and finding out past events that happened on our date of birth. Learning broadens our minds and improves insight into all aspects of our lives (ourselves, our relationships and the world) which in turn is good for our wellbeing. As we know from a previous blog, learning has multiple benefits for our wellbeing.
Spend 15 minutes finding out who you share your birthday with. Who knows which celebrities or historical figures you share your day with? I share my birthday – 25th July – with Matt Le Blanc, best known for playing Joey in Friends who I briefly featured in a previous post about giving.
Also spend some of that time looking at events that have happened on your birthday. What sporting achievements, historical moments or cultural changes happened on that date? You can record all of this on the worksheet below.
Click here to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.
If you’d like to share how you got on with this activity, or the impact birthdays have on your wellbeing, please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
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