I only really understand myself, what I'm really thinking and feelings, when I've talked it over with my circle of female friends. When days go by without that connection, I feel like a radio playing in an empty room.
-Anna Quindlen

From "The Women's Book of Resilience: 12 Qualities to Cultivate" by Beth Miller, Ph.D.:

It turns out that having the support of a group doesn't just feel good, it is, empirically, good for us, especially during stressful times. As we learn more and more about the connection between mind and body, we are also becoming aware of the link between illness and social isolation. When people in stressful situations do not have someone in whom to confide, their immune response apparently weakens. In James Pennebaker's study of 2,000 people who had suffered trauma, including physical abuse, rape, or the death of a loved one, those who managed to confide in someone about the event were found to be healthier. Those who hadn't discussed their experiences developed more illness of various sorts-from headaches to lung disease.

We have discovered that when stress is high, people without psychological support suffer as much as ten times the incidence of physical and emotional illness as do those who are able to get such support.Lisa Berkman, a public health specialist from Yale, monitored 200 older men and women who had suffered heart attacks. She found that those with the most support from others lived the longest after the attack. Dr. Berkman explains that emotional support contributes to healing for physical reasons. "If you feel like you have emotional support, you may be less stressed. Your blood pressure doesn't shoot up, your heart doesn't race." The comfort and solace of connection makes a difference.

Whether our connection is to lots of people, to family members, to a very special person, to nature and all her gifts, to the deepest part of ourselves through meditation and prayer, or to the divine on a mountaintop as we exclude ourselves from the rest of humanity, there is no doubt that we need to be in contact with a system of support outside of ourselves.

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