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Leading Mental Health Charity Highlights Microjoys as Key to Improving Region's Mental Health

With almost half of inner-city district Ladywood being at risk of loneliness, leading mental health charity, Living Well UK, has identified ‘microjoys’ – moments of joy you can easily find or integrate into daily life – as a key tool for improving mental health across the West Midlands. 


Coined by author Cyndie Spiegel, ‘microjoys’ represent the practice of uncovering joy and finding hope at any point in the day. Designed to be accessible to everyone, ‘microjoys’ emphasise the practice of gratitude and the prioritisation of happiness in our lives through mindfulness and being present in the moment. 


To help you uncover microjoys on your doorstep, the clinical team at Living Well have highlighted some West Midlands-centric ways to find joy in your day-to-day life:


1. Connect with Other People:


Social connection is a cornerstone of mental and emotional wellbeing. Yet, in Birmingham, significant portions of the population find themselves in solitude.  To combat this, initiatives like those at gounded. Hall Green and the grounded. cafe in Selly Oak provide ample opportunities to connect with others: whether that’s by talking to a mental health professional, catching up with friends or participating in weekly events such as crafternoons or yoga. 


Awa Njie, Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at Living Well UK, highlights the importance on connecting with others, saying:


“Humans are inherently social creatures, so connecting with others fosters a sense of belonging and support. Reports suggest that people in communities with higher levels of social cohesion have lower rates of mental health problems than those in neighbourhoods with lower cohesion, irrespective of other factors like wealth. If you’re feeling down, reach out to someone: try visiting a family member or texting a friend. You could also reach out to a listening service if you’d rather speak to someone privately about how you’re feeling. After all, a problem shared can feel like a problem halved.”


Additionally, attending live performances offers avenues for social engagement, with the arts having an important role in tackling major social problems like loneliness and isolation. Birmingham is known for having a rich cultural scene, and it continues to provide numerous options for all price points, including some free performances. Live performances are a great chance to be present in the moment and whilst it is harder to incorporate into a frequent routine, trying to get out to a live show here and there may help to uncover some joy. 


2. Learn Something New:


Hobbies and skills acquisition play a significant role in enhancing wellbeing by providing avenues for stress management and personal growth. If you love to read, or just want to learn something new, Birmingham's libraries offer free access to a wealth of knowledge, from books to audiobooks, accessible across the city. It has been reported that engaging with libraries results in heightened happiness, and it also supports crucial local services that are currently under pressure, making it a benefit to you and your community. Whether it’s on a beach or cosied up in bed, reading is a ‘microjoy’ that can be enjoyed anywhere in the world, making it super easy to work into your routine, even if it’s just a couple of pages a day.  


Why not also delve into the city’s rich history, as it’s been suggested that engaging with museums leads to reduced social isolation and decreased anxiety. Museums and galleries in the city, such as the Birmingham Art and History Museum or ikon gallery, offer opportunities for exploration and learning, often for free or low prices. Living Well UK also frequently engage in the arts to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing, having recently worked with Birmingham-born artist Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora to create photography workshops in local green spaces, which will be showcased in the ikon gallery in June of this year. 


3. Be Physically Active:


Engaging in physical activity, particularly in green spaces, has been linked to improvements in mood and self-esteem. Birmingham has plenty of green spaces such as Cannon Hill Park, which is accessible to those in Moseley, where 43.6% of the population are living in solitude. Cannon Hill Park is also home to the Midlands Arts Centre as well as Living Well UK’s walking therapy, which allows participants to engage in therapy whilst immersing themselves in green space and physical exercise. 


Birmingham is also home to one of Europe’s largest urban parks, Sutton Park. Being easily accessible to areas with the highest rates of elderly loneliness, it offers a vast space for all activities across all ages, whether that’s a stroll amongst the trees, a friendly game of football or a picnic with a loved one. Getting out the house and exercising in green space can boost your mental health, with as little as 5 minutes needed for there to be improvements to your mental wellbeing, making it possible to easily incorporate it into your routine. 


Awa weighed in on the topic, commenting:


“Getting regular exercise can have huge benefits for our mental health, with studies showing the positive effects for anxiety, stress and depression. This is because exercise causes our bodies to release endorphins – the natural chemicals that elevate our moods and reduce stress. Think of it as a stress-relief valve for your brain!”


4. Help Others


Acts of kindness have been shown to increase feelings of wellbeing, as they can improve social connections and self- esteem. Whilst you can make the world a happier place through small acts such as helping out a neighbour or making a co-worker a coffee, if you’re looking to implement goodwill into your routine the city has plenty of opportunities to help others. 


Charities like Legacy West Midlands, W.A.I.T.S. and St Paul’s Community Development Trust, offer volunteering roles within the city as well as donation and fundraising opportunities, allowing you to find a way to fit charity work around your life. Birmingham also hosts many charity activities such as the Birmingham Race for Life and the Great Birmingham Run, the second biggest half marathon in the UK.


Incorporating ‘microjoys’ into our daily lives allows us to savour the small moments. By embracing practices that prioritise connection, physical activity, and continuous learning, we take meaningful steps towards nurturing our mental wellbeing and cultivating a more vibrant and resilient community. 


To find out more about Living Well UK’s services and the support that residents can access, visit their website, or head to your nearest grounded. location in Selly Oak or Hall Green.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Claire Bryson .

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