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Who do you share your birthday with?

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.

Birthday rituals

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 15minutewellbeing@gmail.com

I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.

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What do your initials look like in a different language?

Happy Mental Health Awareness Week! Semana feliz de conciencia de salud mental! Woche des gesunden psychischen Bewusstseins für psychische gesundheit! Semaine heureuse desensibilisation à la santé mentale!*

What do foreign languages have to do with mental health? Well, research has shown that learning another language can benefit our wellbeing.

Learning a foreign language is associated with a whole host of benefits for our wellbeing, including:

  • Enhancing our problem solving skills
  • Developing our ability to negotiate
  • Improving our assertiveness
  • Planning and achieving goals

As we learnt from the previous blog on learning, there are many benefits to learning as adults such as increased self-esteem, self-confidence and giving us a sense of purpose. This in turn can help us feel more optimistic and satisfied with life – key factors of positive wellbeing.

But this is 15 minute wellbeing, how can we learn a language in 15minutes?

We can’t be expected to be fluent in a new language in 15 minutes, but we can learn something small in a different language, or alphabet. There are currently 8 main different alphabets used across the world (with at least 62 other alphabets known to have been used throughout history), each using different symbols and shapes to represent letters and words, and each beautiful in their own way.

The top alphabet is Tifinagh and the bottom is Korean (hanguel and hanja). Both translate to
‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’ (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Today’s activity is designed for you to have a bit of fun with your initials. What do your initials look like in an alphabet different to your native language? Use the worksheet to draw your initials in another language or alphabet. As well as learning what they look like, try pronouncing them in the different language too.

Click the link below 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.

Check back here (and@15minwellbeing on Instagram and twitter) tomorrow for the next wellbeing activity as part of Mental Health Awareness Week!

*(Please note these sentences were written using a translation app so apologies if they don’t read 100% correctly)