How Our Girlfriends Keep Us Healthy
It’s wonderful when you hang with your girl-squad, especially when you’re not feeling all that great to start. Somehow going out with a few of your friends or having a one-on-one chat can immediately makes you feel better.
I have a few close friends who between them fill all my friendship-needs. I have a friend who inspires me, another who always has my back, and third who is like a sister to me. I know that whatever I need, one of my friends will help me, and in return I’m there for them too.
Everyone (hopefully,) knows the value of female friendships and how they make us feel supported, cared for, and loved, but did you know that having amazing kick-ass female friends is good for our health too?
Research has shown that female friendships help keep us healthier, so whether you’re going out for ladies’ night or going to the movies, when you’re with your female friends, you’re taking care of yourself. So, you’re not going out for coffee or a glass of wine, you’re practicing self-care.
Feeling emotionally supported improves self-esteem
According to Natalie Moore, LMFT, there are an increasing amount of moon circles or spaces than ever before. These moon circles are places where women can get together during the new or full moon to share their experiences, dreams, goals, wishes, fears, and everything that they’re feeling in a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental space. “This type of emotional support from other women allows us to organically move through our own “stuff” without analysis or advice that may be unhelpful,” says Moore. If we don’t have someone to talk to about what’s going on with us, then we tend to bottle it up and suppressing our emotions isn’t good for us.
The more we suppress our feelings, the more anxious we get, and anxiety isn’t healthy
Anxiety can cause many health issues like a raise in heart rate, palpitations, chest pain, negatively affect your digestive and immune systems, and cause headaches, muscle tension, insomnia, and depression—just to name a few side-effects of anxiety.
Our girlfriends help us reduce stress
Chronic stress can negatively affect both the mind and the body. One of the reasons for this is Cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone and it’s released when we feel overwhelmed and anxious. It’s the “fight-or-flight’ stress response and for decades it was thought as the sole stress response, but UCLA study done in 2000 found that there’s actually another stress reaction—one that is unique to women, and that’s the “tend and befriend” system. This is triggers when women are around other women who they feel connected to and emotionally supported by.
Our girlfriends help us change bad habits
If you want to workout more or eat better, what do you do? You get a friend to help you. Our friends help us to stay on track. If you don’t feel like working out but you made arrangements to meet your friend at the gym, you probably will go just because you don’t want to let them down.
Empathizing with our women helps us learn to have compassion for ourselves
When you find a friend that not only understands what you’re going through but has been there too, you stop feeling isolated and alone. You’re able to relax and not hold yourself up to impossible standards. “Women also share the big things, like illness, death, and other tragedies,” says Karen C.L. Anderson, life coach and author of Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration. “Yes, if we’re lucky we have romantic partners that we can share things with, but with our friends, it’s different. We’re able to diffuse the intensity of something big amongst our friends so we’re not dumping it all on our partners.”
Whether it’s a new friend or someone you’ve been friends with forever, our female friendships are good for us and we need them in our lives to help counterbalance all the negativity, like stress that comes at us on a daily basis.
My mother used to say, “Men will come and go, but you’ll always have your girlfriends.” I’d like to amend that and say not only will you always have your girls, but that they’ll always be there for you, cheering you on and helping you to be a better, happier, and healthier person.
How important are female friendships to you? Let’s talk about it.