Girlfriends Equal Health: They Teach it at Stanford

In my passion for my work I often keep going long after I need a break – and I’ve been accused by women friends of appearing too busy to get together.  While I’ve read this piece before – my sister just sent it to me today, reminding me that while work feeds us in many ways, and personal “cave time” is essential for connecting with our feminine wisdom, we need the ease, laughter and strength we find in the mirror of our girlfriends to thrive. Here’s an excerpt from the article -

They Teach It at Stanford

“I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to…

…nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged—not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends! Evidently it’s very good for our health.”

I sure find my own benefits in female friendship and spending time in circles of women which is why I host an annual women’s retreat on the island of Molokai. Join us if you are ready for some fun in a circle of amazing women, like you.

Tend-and-befriend is a behavior exhibited by some animals, including humans, in response to threat. It refers to protection of offspring and community (tending) and seeking out the social group or friends for mutual defense (befriending). In evolutionary psychology, tend-and-befriend is theorized as having evolved as the typical female response to stress, just as the primary male response was first identified by Walter Bradford Cannon.

The tend-and-befriend theoretical model was originally developed by Dr. Shelley E. Taylor and her research team at the University of California, Los Angeles and first described in a Psychological Review article published in the year 2000.[1]

BTW - I’m taking my own medicine and just sent a text to my neighbor for a walk. Plus, I posted this on my computer screen: “A failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!”

A walk or cup of tea anyone?