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Tend and Befriend - The importance of female friendships on your health

3 female friends swimming in the Tasmanian waters. Tourism Tasmania, travel tasmania, come down for air

We hear so much about the relationship with self, relationships with your partner but your female friendships are also integral to your health.

We’ve all battled through a toxic female friendship or betrayal at some point, and I would akin this heartbreak to more than that of a lovers.  The betrayal of a female friendship can at many times hit us harder. We understand for some women that female relationships can feel complicated at times, however there is a potentially a link with female friendships and health that you’ve never considered.
It can aid longevity.

And this is no longer anecdotal – a major study by UCLA  concluded that “women more reliably turn to their social contacts in times of stress, responses that are . . . protective of health and longevity. The fact that men may be somewhat more likely to cope with stress via fight or flight and women to cope with stress via tend and befriend may help to explain the worldwide gender gap in mortality.”

This innate ability to share and lean is perhaps the missing link between health, happiness and longevity.  The study continues “When close relationships are threatened or one is socially isolated, a rise in plasma oxytocin occurs, a biological marker that may signal a need for affiliation: Oxytocin prompts affiliative behavior in response to stress, in conjunction with the opioid system. Together with positive social contacts, oxytocin attenuates biological stress responses that would otherwise arise in response to social threats. These social responses to stress and their biological underpinnings appear to be more characteristic of women than men.

Some would argue that the link is even deeper and that women are true mirrors – often times calling out or raising behaviours and encouraging emotional growth.

Women do get love and support from their partners, however a female friend can offer a different view during times of need. When it comes to relationships, a female friend can be an outsider looking in, offering sincere advice that you may not want to hear, but can positively influence your decisions. 

It’s this true and honest connection from our female friends that can ensure a balanced mental state and a removal of victimhood. This removal can then lead to a physical unburdening – a state of heightened connection with true self.

According to a report in Psychology Today  it states that “female friendships can be the key to happiness in women, but they’re not often treated as such.”
And it’s true: we hear a lot more about the importance of exercise and nutrition then hanging out with girlfriends. I’m not saying go eat crap and don’t move your body BUT are you prioritising your friendships?

Now I’ve heard the phrase “I’m just more of a guys girls” and more times than I can remember (in my 20’s) I think I spouted this on several occasions and it was more an attempt to be a “cool girl”. And yes, men have played a very important role in my life as friends but there is a distinct difference in the conversations and level of support offered by female friends.

I struggled with friendships through high school – I didn’t really fit into any set subgroup. I was sporty but I wasn’t a “sporty girl” and I was good in class but not a “nerd’ and I wasn’t in the “cool” group either and I think many of us felt like we drifted through school.

Do I have a strong group of school friends that have seen me through life – no.
For me, it didn’t happen but for some women this is true.

I’ve found that it’s been my friendships developed in my 30’s that have helped shape me as a woman. Not friendships based on proximity but connection to each part of me. The strong support I have always craved and each bring a unique perspective.  I don’t have yes men – I have “hold up” women. I have women who will be that mirror, who will pull me up, push me and expand me.  And before you ask – no this list does not need to be long. I think in this life if you truly have 2 ride or die bitches than you’ve bloody made it.

So here’s to the women who not only hold us up and listen to our burdens but who truly benefit our health. Helping to shape us physically, mentally and emotionally as we continue this journey through life.

So that walking date with your GF is doing more than supporting you mentally and physically - it's providing you true longevity.

Text her!


Words by Founder - Jess Blizzard

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