Healthy Living: Befriend & Tend
Befriend and Tend
“What is it about women and their girlfriends? Why do we need to talk things out, get different opinions, just talk?? It is now believed that being with friends can counteract that intense ache in the stomach many of us deal with on a daily basis. I have seen this stress response in myself and often over the 34 years of listening to people in my coaching business. In a 2002 article Gail Berkowitz stated that a UCLA study suggested that women actually respond to stress differently than men, and that women’s brain chemicals cause us to maintain friendships with other women. Before these findings, all the research pointed to the “fight or flee” stress response, because men only were used as their test subjects. Only in 2002, after testing hundreds of female subjects, the study suggests that women have a larger range than just fight or flee and that they exhibit behaviors that “tend and befriend”. When the hormone oxytocin, that’s the feel good chemical in the blood stream, made by the pituitary gland, is released as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages a woman 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’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.” No wonder women need to talk and connect with other women. Many studies verify over and over that our human connection; our ties with others help lower blood pressure, heart rates and even cholesterol. Call a friend today, go for a walk, have a tea together, you will feel happier after having done so!”
References: “The Tending Instinct” by Shelley Taylor Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. Behaviorial Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight”.