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Are our girlfriends the key to our happiness?

Ever wondered why you feel so much better after spending time with your girlfriends?

You know the ones I mean…. those quality relationships with the women in our lives who let us be our authentic selves? The women we laugh with, cry with, lean on in a crisis, call when we are feeling down, ring for a favour, reveal our innermost fears to, share our life dilemmas with (without fear of judgement) and chat to about the weird quirky things that happen in our life in general.

Well along with all of those amazing things that we share with our friends, we also share something even more amazing…

And that is, the ability to alleviate the chemical reactions that stress causes on our bodies!

A study by Laura Klein and Shelley Taylor found that for women in response to stress we respond with fight, flight and another response called “tending/befriending”. Klein and Taylor characterise this behaviour as “nurturing offspring” and “being affiliated with social groups”.

In their study ‘Biobehavioral Responses to Stress in Females’, it was found that by maintaining, and utilising these social groups, especially relations with other females, the subjects were better able to manage stressful conditions. What is the scientific evidence you might ask? Well, by engaging in the act of tending/befriending, it was found that this releases oxytocin which helps to counteract the stress in our bodies and ultimately causes a calming effect in the subjects body.

The risk comes when women become busy and neglect these friendships. As Dr Josselson, author of ‘Women’s Friendships’ explains, when women get overly busy with work or family the first thing they do is to re-schedule and let go of their friendships with other women. “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’s a very healing experience” Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D.

So the next time you’re catching up with your girlfriends, remember it’s not only good for the soul, but amazing for your physical and mental health as well. Hell, when you catch up with your girlfriends you’re basically doing a workout at the gym.

Well that’s how I’ll be selling it anyway!