Although the explosion of internet usage over the past couple decades may be the cause of increased isolation for many, as I mentioned in my Backyard Friends post, women have intentionally created pockets of community all over the internet. And this propensity toward bonding is partly a phenomenon of our biological wiring. We women own major production rights to a bonding hormone called Oxytocin, otherwise known as the hug drug. This same chemical we produce when nursing our babies, is also secreted when we’re stressed out. We bond together which then lowers our stress.
Seems we self medicate with friendship.
We calm ourselves and strengthen our relationships with others naturally. In her article, “There’s Nothing Like a Bit Of Oxytocin Between Friends, author Susanna Freymark wryly points out that, in a short amount of time, we ladies lay it all out for discussion, from medical treatments to hair styles, then process it and move on. Then we have good feelings and memories of those moments and the people we spent them with. “Someone cries, they are consoled and counseled with the interchange ending in bursts of laughter. Women rally round. It is the currency of their friendship — this support they give each other through minor and major crises in their lives. Friendship matters to women.
And it matters to their health.”
According to a study done at UCLA in 2002, People who tend and befriend lead more joyful lives and suffer far less physical impairments.The difference in the recovery and grief time for women is decreased and may explain why women end up living longer lives. Ms. Freymark says the results of the findings “were so significant that not having close friends was deemed to be as harmful to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight. ” Cool and scary. Isolation is a killer.
When we women overcome the fight or flight response with production of Oxytocin, our instinct is to tend to our children and friendships which in turn reduces our stress. And if the children are the cause of our stress, we really need to bond even more with others who understand this and won’t judge us. Ironically, we become closer and feel better when we’re stressed due to how we deal with the stress.
As Oxytocin’s been recognized for its amazing ability to significantly lessen depression symptoms, programs have been implemented which send a “friend” to meet and chat with people in need. Seems intuitive to know that companionship would help people’s psyches but to hug people and lend them you physical love, that is a truer gift of healing.
In this process of chemical and emotional bonding, we have reduced our stress and felt love for ourselves with someone else’s help. And we love them for helping us feel good. It’s a feel good-a -thon worth attempting. That chemical love is healing and miraculous. And the memory of it will linger in your esteem long after your encounter ends.
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