4 Health Benefits of Female Friendships
September 23rd, 2016 by Lauren Tharp
A lot of us here at FabFitTravel started out as “Guys’ Girls.” We preferred male companionship and were wary of having female friends. Being around women felt akin to being locked in a cage with tigers – they were beautiful, but felt potentially dangerous.
Our plight was not uncommon. A lot of women feel distrustful of other women – of how they might judge you or betray you. There are plenty of movies and television shows available that show the worst side of women, that glorify their (ahem) “b-word” aspects.
However, as we grew older, we started bonding with women more and more. To the point that we created an entire business on the value of female companionship – of all the wonderful adventures that could be shared with our fellow women!
The truth is: YOU are one of those beautiful tigers that you’re so afraid of. And it’s time to join your “streak” (that’s what a group of tigers is called – fun fact of the day!). Not only are fellow women nothing to be afraid of, there are a lot of health benefits to nurturing female friendships.
Here are four of our favorite benefits:
1. Having Female Friends Lowers Your Stress Levels
In this study by Laura Klein and Shelley Taylor on the relationship between friendships and stress, it was discovered that women react to stress differently than men. This difference is due to the different proportions of hormones that are released into the bloodstream. When men and women are stressed, the hormones cortisol and epinephrine are released together, which raise a person’s blood pressure and circulating blood sugar level. Then oxytocin is released, which counters the production of cortisol and epinephrine and produces a feeling of calm, reduces fear, and counters some of the negative effects of stress. The difference is, women release much larger amounts of oxytocin.
What this means is, women are hard-wired to “tend and befriend” when they’re stressed – reaching out to nurture those around them when they’re filled with oxytocin. And, most of the time, they reach out to fellow women who are feeling similarly.
This means that, when two stressed-out women reach out to each other, they nurture each other back to health. They open themselves up emotionally in ways they can’t with men. And, in the process, they’re able to release their stress and move on with their lives much more quickly and healthily.
2. Female Friendships Boost Your Immune System
Women with strong social ties to other women are healthier than those without.
Neuroscientists at the University of Virginia have uncovered a pathway through which immune system molecules involved in fighting off infections impact brain activity and social deficits in mice.
In their experiment, they found that mice who had close friendships with other mice – especially with those of the same sex – had better immune systems than those without. And the same results are found in human beings!
3. Female Friendships Promote Optimism
Women like to impress other women. And, because of this, we’re almost always at the top of our game when we’re around our female friends.
No one wants to be the “Debbie Downer” in a group. So, when among friends, we try harder to put on a positive front.
However, this has a “fake it ‘til you make it” effect. By acting positive, we automatically become more positive. And so do those we’re around.
It’s super hard to stay in a bad mood when the women you’re around are so uplifting!
4. Female Friendships Give You a Sense of Belonging
Remember what we said about joining your tiger “streak” by making friends with other women? This is because making friends with other women will give you a stronger sense of security and community.
Going with the tiger analogy: Would you rather be a tiger alone, or a tiger surrounded by other tigers? There’s a reason why you never see a lone tiger at the zoo – tigers need the companionship of their fellows; and so do you!
We all have times when we feel like “no one” understands us. But, the truth is, even though they might not have your exact same life, other women will relate to you better than any man ever could. Female friendships aren’t just “nice” to have – they’re a necessity for healthy living!
These are just a few of the reasons we encourage female bonding on our all-women destination vacations! We always suggest that women bring a female friend along with them on their adventure. Or, if you don’t have a female friend to bring, we make an effort to pair you off with someone.
It’s fine to have male friendships, but, if you’re scared of bonding with fellow women, we implore you to try reaching out to a woman today. Your mind and body will thank you.