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By Ariel Nicole
We rely on them through the breakups, the job losses, disappointments of life and in the joyous moments, like weddings, the birth of a child, and wins in our careers. As a woman there, may be some science behind why you need a village; tribe; girl group; girl gang; sisters; besties; sister circle; sorors , etc now more than ever.
Reduce Your Stress
Biologically, women respond differently to stress than men. Generally, when people respond to stress
they release cortisol–the hormone which causes the fight, flight, or freeze response. However, women also release Oxytocin which acts as a buffer to the cortisol and encourages them to protect and nurture. This hormone helps to calm us and encourages us to gather together with other women. This is seen in other animal species. One specialist even said that seeking social support during stressful times is the primary way that men and women differ in their biological response to stressful stimuli. In multiple research studies, results showed that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease than women with 10 or more friends.
Improves Mental Health
In a 2009 study where 300 people were surveyed, researchers found that respondents with insufficient social support were the most likely to suffer from mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. People with social supports and more reports of friendship had more reported feelings of belonging, purpose, increased levels of happiness, reduced levels of stress, improved self-worth and confidence.
It is important to know who you have in your corner and nurture those relationships. Be kind. Listen. Open up. Be available.
Slows Down Aging
In a successful aging study one of the social factors that was cited as being the most important factor for aging well was friendship with other women. This social factor was consistently chose again and again as being an early predictor of successful aging as well as those with greater social supports and social contacts.
Increases Positive Health Outcomes
In a number of studies, our physical outcomes such as lower rates of heart disease can be affected by our friendships. This study showed that when friends spoke about difficult parts of their lives, rates of blood pressure went down significantly.
Who is in Your Sister Circle?
Our relationships with our close sister friends can increase our sense of purpose and belonging, boost happiness and improve self-confidence/worth. Our amazing sister friends can even help to encourage us to change or avoid an unhealthy lifestyle habit like excessive drinking, poor food choices, smoking or lack of exercise. Identify your social supports system. Identify those sisters and friends that you can turn to in times of crisis or in moments of joy. It is important to know who you have in your corner and nurture those relationships. Be kind. Listen. Open up. Be available.
Jane Fonda, activist and actress says: “Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. We go under, even if we haven’t seen each other for years. There are hormones that are released from women to other women that are healthy and do away with the stress hormones. It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be. We have to just hang together and help each other.”
Ariel Nicole is a facilitator, counselor, and coach. Ariel has partnered with local, national, and international organizations to educate individuals on various topics related to sexuality, human development, relationships, and leadership.
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