A blog by Jamie Cox
I have found it quite challenging over the last 12 months, especially when it comes to meeting others, social gatherings and getting my confidence back around what used to be normal activities. Thinking about the CAN DO Challenge for Men’s Health Week and the five ways to wellbeing, I feel that I am already covering most of these which have included:
Connecting up – I have recently met up with friends I have not seen for quite some time. We had a garden catch up with tea and cake and it was nice to see them. Lots of cake and tea were had!
(Be) Active – I am walking a lot more now than what I did, and I aim to do a long walk at least four times a week, connecting to the outdoors of parks and canals. I may try to get back into the gym and swim more soon. In terms of self-care my physical activity really helps my mental health.
Notice – I am making more time in the garden and outdoors. I have done well turning off all mobile notifications and leaving my phone indoors. This has helped me focus better and appreciate my garden more. There has been some success and I have discovered the joys of growing vegetables and wild plants. Indoor plants are still a challenge at times! I feel it is important for me to stay in touch with the outdoors and nature.
Discovering – I am reading a lot more than I did (as I am not the best reader) however once I have started a book that I find is interesting, I can keep still and get through quite a few pages. I find reading quite calming and relaxing and I am always glad I made the time to read a few pages a day.
Offer– I volunteered for a local organisation previously before lockdown and this has like most things put on hold for quite some time. However, I am now going to start volunteering again which can be so rewarding in so many ways, including helping to improve my own mental health. It is just good to meet new like-minded people.
In terms of wellbeing support, which is included as part of my role, I also offer sexual health testing and recently was facilitating an online ‘married men’s group’. Some of this support is aimed at enabling people to work out ways how they can reduce their isolation and increase their social confidence, and accessing information to make their own informed, healthy choices. For some people it can be difficult currently to meet people with similar lived experiences due to distance, freedom to do so and limited privacy at home, for online social groups.
Minimal interaction and the lack of social confidence with others can have an impact on our mental health and wellbeing. For some people it can be huge step to join or re-join a social support group when we have been cut off from our social norms. Let us hope meeting others, popping to see friends for coffee, meeting a group of likeminded people and generally developing routines we were used can start to happen again. We CAN DO this together.
Anxiety, worry, social interaction, making friends, joining groups, asking for support, all these come to mind and is certainly something I get asked quite a bit; importantly, how do we overcome these and move forward? Sometimes for myself I think about what has worked well for me before and what I enjoy doing.
We understand that meeting physically and being listened to face to face rather than over the phone or video calling can be a great help and benefit to those that would prefer this. We are currently open Tuesday to Friday 10am – 6pm.
Birmingham LGBT has many support groups and services that are available that you may find useful and relate too, please feel free to check our website, social media, and Eventbrite page for updated details around what is running this month.
Some links below that may help are:
We are here for you and happy to make time and support you.
Jamie, Sexual health outreach advisor/ Married men facilitator/ support