The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self


Tend and Befriend

posted by Donna Henes

“Men walk, women talk.” The veracity of this the popular saying was recently proved in a landmark study conducted by two women scientists at UCLA.

The long-held idea that the familiar “fight or flight“ mechanism was the universal human response to stress, (based of studies that were conducted with only male subjects) was turned on its ear by Drs. Laura Klein and Shelley Taylor. Their research suggests that women don’t necessarily run away or engage is confrontational combat when they bare threatened. According to their stunning findings, women seem to operate from a larger range of behavioral options.

“Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible,” explains Laura Cousino Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study’s authors. “It’s an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.”

But women react completely differently. In stressful situations, women experience a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. Specifically, the hormone oxytocin, released as part of the stress response in women, lessens the fight or flight response and prompts us to tend children, old people, and animals, and gather together with other women instead.

And once women do engage in this tending or befriending, studies suggest, more oxytocin is released, which further counteracts stress and produces a comforting effect. “This calming response does not occur in men,” says Dr. Klein, “because testosterone — which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress — seems to reduce the effects oxytocin. Estrogen seems to enhance it.”

What do you do when you are worried, or threatened, stressed to the max, or scared shitless? You call your girlfriend! Consider the enormous significance of this behavior and the ramifications of its effect on our health and well-being. Study after study, years of research, has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. “There’s no doubt,” says Dr. Klein, “that friends are helping us live longer.”

Friendships not only keep us alive, they enhance our quality of life. The famed Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop serious physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading joyful lives. The results were so significant that the researchers concluded that not having close friends or confidantes was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight!

Even the event of the death of a spouse, perhaps the most intense stress inducer, failed to result in any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality in women who had a close friend with whom she confide and commiserate. Those without friends did not fare nearly so well.

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

 

 

 



Previous Posts

Celtic Twilight
This comes from a sister Queen, Jo Coffey. It is in response to an article that I wrote for this column. It was really a lift to read your piece about the Dark Time. I have been feeling out of sorts, but it helps just to realize that other people are in the same situation, and that there are ways

posted 6:00:03am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

This Night We Light
by Judyth Hill the first of 8: A Miracle…Let there…beeeeeeeeeee……Love! And there is! Fire is our human gift: the Holy makes Light, and a World ...and our job: Making Love shine back! First candle says, We Love. Second, side by side: Be Loved 3 says, Always room for more! 4 says

posted 6:00:16am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

AAADD: Know The Symptoms
Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. or Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. Thank goodness there's a name for this disorder. Somehow I feel better even though I have it! This is how it manifests: I decide to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over

posted 6:00:23am Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Queens Everywhere
The Queen Not only in England— Let us have queens everywhere!  Queen of Africa Queen of Afghanistan Queen of America Queen of Arabia Queen of the Argentine Queen of China Queen of Columbia Queen of Egypt Queen of Germany Queen of Guatemala Queen of Iraq Queen of Israel Queen of

posted 6:00:21am Dec. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Stop Being Your Biggest Hater (Part 2)
Steps to Stop Being Your Biggest Hater - Part 2 by Marissa A. Ross Break the patterns. Once you have become aware of negative thoughts, they’re pretty easy to detect and you’ll probably be surprised at how often you think them. These patterns can be as simple as constantly saying “

posted 6:00:58am Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.