The Power of Girlfriends for Women
Women need their friends. There are times when you need to blow off some steam, just relax and laugh, or when you need reassurance or to cry with someone. And when that time comes, your girlfriends have your back.
Have you ever sat back in a coffee shop or at a restaurant and watched a group of close friends laughing or in the midst of an intimate conversation? The easy way they interact, the intense way they listen to each other like they have either forgotten all their troubles or are solving the world's problems? That's friendship.
Or maybe you have admired groups of friends that stay in touch no matter where their lives take them. Friends that take an annual trip together somewhere to stay connected. Friends that no matter how much time has passed, it’s like no time has passed at all. They instantly know each other, can read each other’s faces and guess what the other is thinking.
And it isn’t just during the good times. These are the friends that listen, lend an empathic ear or offer support as time progresses and upending events happen in your life - careers get bumpy, divorce or illness happens or caring for aging parents takes its toll. They stand in for you when you need a stand-in. They support you when you didn't even know you needed support. They offer advice, comfort and reassurance that is invaluable.
These friends are essential to our core. They remind you where you have been, where you are going and who you really are. They remind you that you belong to yourself.
Science Shows Friendship Reduces Stress
Science agrees too. Women tend to seek out others and be much more social when it comes to dealing with stress and there’s a reason for this. A study at UCLA found that women respond to stress differently than men. Instead of releasing hormones that trigger a “fight or flight” response. Women release the hormone oxytocin (known as the “calming” hormone) as part of the stress response and this buffers the fight or flight response and encourages the act of befriending, producing a calming effect.
A series of studies conducted by William Chopik a University of Michigan Scholar found that while family relationships are important, friendships may have a more significant impact on longevity and wellness. Family relationships can have a more serious or monotonous interaction or members pass on or move on to other periods in their lives. This gap makes positive friendships our most important day to day interactions helping to stave off loneliness.
Build Your Sisterhood
The older you get, the more you need friends making it important not to isolate yourself now. Take stock of your current friendships, move on from toxic relationships and invest time in building the mutually positive ones. You may redefine your life throughout the years and friends can be a valuable support system.
If you find yourself needing to rebuild your girlfriend circle, there are a few things you can try:
- Join Groups – most communities have listings for book clubs, art or yoga classes or other types of activities where you can meet other women. Pick something you enjoy. Once there, don’t be a wallflower – strike up a conversation, partner with another woman or suggest you both meet at the local coffee shop to work on a project.
- Look Around Places You Usually Attend – your child's school, church or work can be great places to meet people. Volunteer to help out at an event or strike up a conversation with someone new.
- Join a Travel Group – sign up to take a tour or cruise alone or as a couple with your significant other. You won't really be alone as you will be part of a group of people with a similar interest. But remember to reach out – sticking only to your spouse won’t help you gain new friends.
- Reconnect with Someone – your past can be an excellent source. Reach out to someone you used to enjoy hanging out with, and you never know, maybe they were just waiting for something like that to happen.
Girlfriends are not only good for your soul, but they are also an essential part of your well-being. Get your “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” on and head out for that wine testing with your besties. You will feel so much better and will build life-long friendships.