Can Female Friendships Improve Your Health?

female friendships improve health

Let’s face it – we live in a time where making an instant connection is easier than ever. We can basically get whatever we want, whenever we want it. Want to remember the name of the actor who was in the movie you loved? Look it up. Want any type of food you can imagine at your doorstep? Order it. Want a date for Friday night? Swipe away! However, with all these connections, we seem to be more disconnected than ever.

Community connection is at the core of who we are as humans, and this connection is especially important for women. There’s so much pressure on the modern woman to be ‘perfect’ that we often feel inadequate and compare our accomplishments and even how we look, dress and feel to those of our peers. But when we can put aside our judgments and embrace our differences, we’re also able to support, uplift and empower one another.

Spending quality, in-person time with a group of women can have an incredible effect on your health.

Find Your Support System

Being strong and independent also means knowing when to ask for help. Staying on top of a healthy eating routine and exercise routine is important, but, sometimes, we need that little external push to keep going. Having friends or a healthy community for support or to talk through a slump makes a huge difference.

And guess what? There’s science behind why this works. Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, helps to stimulate dopamine – a neurotransmitter that drives internal rewards and encourages us to learn, explore and achieve psychological wellness.

When it comes to behavior, it’s easier to make healthy decisions because we want to rather than feeling like we ‘should’, which is exactly what dopamine helps us do.

Stress

Stress is a physiological response to the environment, not just a state of being. When the body is under stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol. Our bodies don’t know what is causing the stress; it just knows how to set the right hormonal reaction into play – the ‘fight or flight’ stress response.

For years, researchers thought that this was the only stress response mechanism. However, research shows that there’s actually an alternative stress mechanism called “tend and befriend” that is unique to women.

This alternative stress response is triggered when women can exercise their more nurturing side – spending time with their children or families, calling up a friend or even gathering with an entire group of them. Activities like these stimulate the release of oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Oxytocin can help calm the nervous system and reduce levels of stress. Spending time with supportive women can also increase stress resilience.

Get Together

Something magical happens when women gather, especially those who are going through a similar health journey. It’s easy to get caught up and compare ourselves to others, but the truth is no one’s perfect and we all have aspects of our lives and our bodies that we struggle with!

We often only think of success as us reaching our goals. But reaching our goals isn’t always a journey that comes in a neat little package. Social media is especially good at glossing over this fact and making us feel ‘less than’ or ‘not good enough’. We always see the before and after photos, but what does life look like in between?

Gathering with our peers reminds us that we’re all on our own health journeys. The path from point A to point B isn’t always linear – we eat healthy, we mess up, we get back on.

Listening to how others can progress and overcome obstacles is incredibly empowering because it reminds us that we, too, can achieve anything we want.

Finding Your Community

If you’re looking for your community, I invite you to join Our Health Tribe! It’s a six week nutrition program that empowers women to identify root causes of health imbalances, such as bloating, sugar cravings and low energy levels, while connecting them with other women going through similar experiences.

No one has it figured out! We are all on a journey that can be so much more enjoyable when we spend it with friends who can have a positive impact on our health!

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics


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