You are probably familiar with the phrase “fight or flight” the instinct that people have when faced with a stressful situation. The body is geared up to do one or the other. Well, a recent study suggests that women have more than two options when stressed. Beyond just fight or flight, they also are drawn to spending time with family or friends as a way to reduce stress.
Gale Berkowitz conducted a study entitled: UCLA Study on Friendship Among Women. In the corresponding article, Laura Cousin Klein, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University further explains:
In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress responses in a woman, it butters the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone, which men produce in high levels when they are under stress, seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.
The study goes on to say that although women friendships are a great stress reliever, we fail to make time for those opportunities to bond and share.
Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls’ and Women’s Friendships. We push them right to the back burner. That’s really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they’re with other women. It is a very healing experience.
I have to be honest – I don’t know if the results of this study are a real “aha moment” for me. I treasure my friendships, look forward to those opportunities to get together for sharing or fellowship. However, it really is true that those opportunities become more difficult to make happen the busier we get.
Last year I was trying to get together with a friend and we each had an additional person we wanted to bring to the mix; women we thought would benefit from knowing each other. Kindred spirits, if you will. So we picked a Wednesday night as the best chance to get together. But the first Wednesday wasn’t going to work for two of us, the following week, one couldn’t come, the week after that…and so on. To this day, the four of us have yet to get together. How sad is that?
We need to MAKE TIME for each other. Not just because we enjoy each other’s company, or because it is nice to get away from home and work and just indulge in a little ladies night out, but because it is beneficial for our health!
So tell your significant other that it is a medical necessity and schedule a girl’s night out in July. Then take a picture and share it on Facebook!
To read the entire article about the UCLA Study – click on the link. UCLA Study on Friendship Among Women