Stress Relief for Women: Spend Time with Your Girlfriends

5SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/29/2008 10:41 AM   :  79 comments


Girlfriendology
founder Debba Haupert made her debut as a guest blogger on the dailySpark in September. Now that girlfriend guru is back, with plenty of good advice culled from interviews and chats with her own girlfriends.

Are you stressed? Worried about the economic situation? Unsure of what the future holds?

Join the club. Unfortunately we’re all stressed, especially women. The American Psychological Association research study "Stress in America," reports that women are more fearful about the current financial situation than men. Women are reporting more physical and psychological symptoms, including sleep disturbance, headaches, mood swings and changes in appetite. In fact, more than one-third of women currently rank their stress level as "extreme."

Healthwise, stress can impact us in profoundly negative ways. We often react by partaking in unhealthy habits like overeating, drinking too much and smoking. Stress can elevate our blood pressure, affect our hearts, and impact our ability to sleep or concentrate. Emotionally it can make us anxious, fearful, depressed or paranoid. With the holidays here and all the traditional challenges they brings with them, now is a great time to find some stress relief.

How can women reduce stress? First, let’s look at how we process it. As women, we don’t have the male gene that causes a “fight or flight” response. We actually respond with a need to “tend and befriend.” We want to take care of our children and to be with our friends. (More on this in the book: “The Tending Instinct,” by psychologist Shelley E. Taylor.) Also, we are often the primary source of emotional support to children, men and other women – so if we’re stressed, it can impact everyone around us.

Unfortunately we individually can’t do much to stop the economic situation, but we can reduce our stress so we can take better care of ourselves and our families.

Here at Girlfriendology, the online community for women based on female friendship, we believe it is more important than ever for women to look out for ourselves and one another. Girlfriends make us healthier, happier, live longer, feel more beautiful and even reduce stress. These close social ties are therapeutic and healthy, especially in a time of high stress.

So, girlfriends – here are 10 ways women can reduce stress, with help from our female friends:

  1. Volunteer with a friend. Animal shelter or senior center, church group or a neighborhood organization--volunteering together doubles the fun. And, knowing that you’re helping others takes your mind off your own stress and reminds you of all your blessings.

  2. Simplify your lives--together. Take turns helping each other get organized. Help your girlfriend with household projects or have her join you in cleaning out your basement. Organize, declutter and to trust your girlfriend to help you make good choices in what to keep and what to donate or toss. Do a little at a time--no need to be stressed by the project!

  3. Phone a friend--still is a great lifeline! Sure, we sometimes send a quick email or forward a funny joke, but it takes personal communication to really connect. People love the sound of their friend’s voice. Give her a call to catch up. Plan a phone date at a time that’s good for both of you. I have a monthly coffee phone dates with a long-distance girlfriend. We plan a time to talk on the weekend when the free minutes are rolling. A few minutes on the phone together can totally erase all our worries simply through a caring, fun conversation between girlfriends.

  4. Start a girlfriend group. Gather friends and start a book club, running club, mommies group or gourmet club. Find a common interest and then meet up on a regular basis. Like a vacation, it’s something great to anticipate!

  5. Make plans to do dinner or lunch. Food + girlfriends = fun! Try a new restaurant or share appetizers at your girlfriends’ for a happy hour with the girls. Take a wine tasting or cooking class together.

  6. Take a yoga or Pilates class with a girlfriend. The exercise will help you physically, the girlfriend will help you emotionally – both wonderful outcomes for an hour of your time. Plus, you’re bound to find things to giggle about in class, which is worth the effort simply for the comic relief!

  7. Try some animal therapy. Pets, like girlfriends, are also a proven source of stress relief. Put the two together and visit a dog park with a girlfriend. You’ll laugh at the dog antics, personalities and owners. Or, take a dog for a walk together. That combines exercise, animals and friendship--add a nice day and you’re set for a super stress-relieving session.

  8. Be creative. Enjoy time together and forget about the stress in your lives by getting creative. Take a knitting class, plan a day to scrapbook, make cards, bead or try a new craft together. Crafting is also a wonderful way to get your mind thinking creatively which can lead to new solutions for your stressful life. There’s a reason women are so passionate about their pastimes--find your passion and some girlfriends who share that hobby with you and you’re on your way to happiness. And, you can make gifts for your girlfriends!

  9. Plan some together time for pampering. Go shoe shopping, get haircuts or massages, or share a cup of tea--together. Allow yourself some time together to take care of your inner girlie-girl.

  10. Get healthy together. The fact is: weight gain or unhealthy habits often accompany stress. Find an approach that works for both of you to get healthier. Get her to sign up for SparkPeople too and track your progress together. Hold each other accountable for eating right, exercising, encouraging each other and celebrating your successes. Stress diminishes when you’re healthy, happy, beautiful and with your girlfriend!

You see? Spending time with your girlfriends is an excellent way of reducing your stress and that of your friends. By taking this pre-emptive, proactive approach, you’ll both be healthier, calmer and even have happier holidays. Stress-relief by spending time with your girlfriends … it’s a great way to respond to whatever stresses you!

Girlfriendology
is the online community for women based on inspiration, appreciation and celebration of female friendship.
Founded by Debba Haupert in 2006, Girlfriendology inspires women to make new female acquaintances, spend time with their girlfriends, and appreciate those friendships that are vital to women’s health and happiness. Girlfriendology.com features inspiring women in semi-weekly podcasts, contests to share girlfriend stories and provides videos, shopping, reviews, blogs and more.




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Comments

  • NICOLEKI1
    79
    So incredibly thankful for this article! When I suffered a lot from stress last year, I sought help on Your24hCoach and it was a success. On this website, you can directly talk to coaches for any problem you might have. Funny thing; my coach also strongly advised me to keep in touch with my friends and he also helped me to reorganize my week so that there was still sufficient time to spend with my lovely friends who really supported me at this time. You should check Your24hCoach. I think it's a good concept for someone in need! - 4/11/2013   6:01:47 AM
  • 78
    between this article saying women don't get "fight or flight" triggered .. and in DBT I often lean towards Reasonable/Rational/Logical mind as opposed to Emotional Mind and (sometimes) Wise Mind... maybe i should have gender switched a long time ago. (not)

    =) i spent my childhood climbing trees, building stuff, being creative, etc... and my best friends are guys; always has been. they're easier to get along with and are more accepting than girls/women. we usually have quite a bit in common since I'm not exactly a girly-girl with hair and makeup stuff. sure it's nice and fun to play dress-up every now and then but it def is not a daily thing.

    I studied premed, chemistry, physics, podiatry and eventually switched schools, locations, and got my BS in computer science database systems. bits and bytes are way easier to understand and use.

    through DBT I kind of finally have a cpl female friends but honestly i'm on edge thinking gee, when will this turn into some stupid jealousy drama thing like the female friend i had last year at the time and now don't talk with at all. - 12/18/2012   5:55:39 PM
  • 77
    My friends keep me sane. I am lucky enough to have a group of friends that meet every Saturday for coffee at a local Starbucks. There may be two or three and sometimes we are ten or more. We range in age of 11 months to me at 82 years. There are 30 year olds, 50 year olds, one seventhy year old and then there is me. We are comprised of daughters, granddaughters, neighbors,and long time friends. If someone has company on a Saturday they join us too. I love them all dearly and cannot imagine my life without them - 4/13/2011   4:28:10 PM
  • 76
    Girlfriends share a special bond, I wouldn't be where I am today without my Spark friends and my Girlfriend here. They keep me motivated to maintain my weight and new healthier lifestyle. - 3/20/2010   11:34:10 PM
  • 75
    Girlfriends do share a bond. They truly understand one another. - 3/2/2010   1:21:41 AM
  • 74
    Great ideas!! Due to the magic of the internet & Facebook I've gotten reintouch with old friends, I think it would be great to use some of your suggestions! - 2/28/2010   5:21:35 PM
  • MAMAJAZ
    73
    Susan, Maybe joining an activity at a church would give you some "girl time" without having any very close friends. I have a hard time making friends, in general. I settle for good acquaintances. - 6/6/2009   2:26:29 PM
  • SUSAN515
    72
    The idea is great wish it would happen lived here for 16 years did not have but one true friend who has now passed away, moved away for 10 years, now just moved back to the area, hopefully the area has gotten friendlier we all need friends. Lonliness is definitely depressing. - 4/22/2009   9:10:19 AM
  • 71
    I am so glad I found the Girlfriendology website. I love it! - 3/10/2009   5:42:25 AM
  • 70
    Oh, and one more thing...I actually think the anticipation of hanging out with friends sometimes stresses me out. The article talked about the benefits of spending time with friends, but what about potential drawbacks? Am I alone in this feeling? - 3/8/2009   10:02:06 PM
  • 69
    I have good friends who are girls, but I don't talk to them often enough to really share every intimate thing. I find that when I do, I get annoyed or sick of them. I wish I could be more generous and understanding, because I think I would benefit from closer girl friendships. I think I get less annoyed with my guy friends, but really I just don't like to see anyone too often! Hummph. - 3/8/2009   9:58:33 PM
  • 68
    i don't know what i would do without my bff. she is everything to me. - 2/9/2009   1:08:49 AM
  • MAXDARE
    67
    count me among those without close girlfriends. i have work acquaintances, some i consider friends, but most of our time together is at work. we all lead such different lives, though we get on well when we are together. i have been looking for some close girlfriends, online or in real. Kind of cool that this article came up. - 1/3/2009   5:59:17 PM
  • TAKMILLION
    66
    This is hard. Getting time with GF. We both have kids, she works full time and there just seems to not be enough hours in the day. I really keep saying I need someone other than family. - 12/17/2008   1:21:08 PM
  • 65
    I'm in the same boat as the gals w/o trustworthy, close female pals. It's really difficult for me to connect and not feel awkward or get burned. I either end up bored out of my mind or an on-call therapist. My guy friends (of both sexual orientations) never presented those issues. Marriage (way) complicated this. - 12/4/2008   6:46:32 AM
  • 64
    I believe the power of the girlfriend is all powerful. I have one BFF and a very close group of girlfriends that have come to know over the past year. I feel that I would be lost without any of them. - 12/3/2008   8:07:38 PM
  • 63
    What if you don't have any trustworthy, loyal girlfriends? - 12/3/2008   3:40:35 PM
  • 62
    I couldn't make it without my friends. Every Wednesday night we meet for coffee at a local late night restaurant and de-compress. If i'm traveling, I call to make sure i'm not missing anything. It is a great time talking, listening, sharing, praying, and fun. - 12/3/2008   1:39:34 PM
  • ELEFANTLUVR
    61
    I think this is a great idea..It really does work..We did it on Black Friday and we had a blast.Lots of fun and it did relieve alot of stress . We plan to do it again .It was great catching up on everything happening with each other too. - 12/3/2008   8:46:52 AM
  • MISSYPIE
    60
    This is the first I have heard of Girlfriendology, but I love the idea of it. It seem so often that I iwll be chatting with one of my girlfriends and one of coments on the fact that we haven't seen or talked to each other in days (and we are in the same town)! I will deffinitely be visiting the website and using some of these ideas to de-stress this holiday season and beyond. - 12/2/2008   7:09:32 PM
  • CACUPIT
    59
    Girlfriendology is definitely something that I personally believe in. As a military family, we frequently move. Good friends make all of the difference. I have been a member of Girl Guides of Canada as an adult for 15 years. It has been a source of friendship that is unsurpassed. I know that no matter where I go I can find like minded women that care about the young women of today, and as a bonus may even become a good friend.
    Those friendships have endured the test of time through miles of separation, family tragedies, kids, husbands and anything else that we can come up with between us. They are my sanity and a constant source of encouragement.
    Thank God for friends.
    - 12/2/2008   1:51:59 PM
  • DEBBIEKAY1
    58
    I am so thankful for all the great women in my life . I am truly blessed I still have friends from high school that I am very close to. Great article thanks! - 12/2/2008   8:45:06 AM
  • BRONZEQUEEN41
    57
    I would love to have girlfriends that I can trust, hang out with, and share secrets with. But I don't. I know hundreds of people but none of them are people that I can trust. How can I get over this and find in my heart to open up and let someone in my life. - 12/2/2008   7:25:44 AM
  • 56
    Would LOVE to have something like this, but my I don't trust women. This goes back to my childhood and how I was bully'd; pushed around; picked on. THANKS girls ! - 12/2/2008   5:34:07 AM
  • LADYMOONWILLOW
    55
    All my friends are here. My daughter is my only one here. I do miss the one on one with other women...but this town is not the friendliest and I have lived here 25 years and barely know anyone. - 12/1/2008   8:57:00 PM
  • 54
    I have heard of this and like the idea of a girls time. - 12/1/2008   7:24:31 PM
  • 53
    I am with you.. I have a friend who was my walking partner all summer and we walked and talked for about 90 minutes everyday.. Its winter now and we couldn't continue walking outside and I could feel that I am missing her and would really love to have her back.. - 12/1/2008   5:27:24 PM
  • COLFITZ
    52
    I couldn't agree more, we are all a little happy after talking to or spending time with a friend. I don't know what I would do without my girlfriends, but I also know my better half needs it as well. Maybe not for the same reason's but we all need time to have fun.
    If you haven't given that to yourself lately, do it, even if it's with your co-workers, moms from school that you may not know that well. Try it, find who you are comfortable with, it does us all wonders! - 12/1/2008   2:51:33 PM
  • 51
    My best friends live away from me and we try to get together once a year. I have friends where I live at now but our outings seem to turn into therapy session with me being the therapist. Even with that I can't imagine my life without my girlfriends. - 12/1/2008   10:56:18 AM
  • CLAWW855
    50
    I have lived in many places, and have gone through many challenges in my life. What I have found out is that when I have friends around me, I tend to go through those challenging times much easier. I have a propensity towards depression, which leads to me isolating myself. When I have caring women around me, whether they are family, sister or aunt, lifelong friends, or my daughter, it is a tremendous help! - 12/1/2008   10:38:28 AM
  • 49
    I like the other poster on this line, have mostly male friends. I agree, there has never been an issue with the fact that most of my friends are male. I have the best advice and a long line of 'brothers' ready to go toe to toe if needed. It is a wonderful thing. :O) I think it is great if you have girlfriends, but for me, I find it too much drama. - 12/1/2008   10:19:07 AM
  • 48
    I could not do without my girlfriends. Many of them scattered across the world(I am a Navy wife and was in the Navy), but they still are my support system:) - 12/1/2008   9:40:59 AM
  • 47
    I am blessed with a good inner circle of friends... One of the largest things that I have come to understand about friendship is vunerability.. When I was younger, in grade and high school... I made surface friends easily.. As I have gotten older, I am more choosey with my choice of friends... Friendship to me is like growing a garden or having a plant. It needs attention (time), food (converstion), and water (understanding)... Some plants will die without these three elements... Of course this is just my opinion... - 12/1/2008   8:27:07 AM
  • VENACAVA
    46
    As a "woman" with all-male friends, I say: pssssssssh. This is sexist, gender-biased bull.

    Is there a research cite for this "fight or flight" gene occurring only in men? I've never heard of this discovery before. - 12/1/2008   8:20:51 AM
  • 45
    I've lived in many cities around the world ever since I was a little girl. I've been fortunate enough to make very good friends (mostly female, some male) in every instance.

    To the ladies (and gents) who say they have no (or just a couple of) friends, I'd say, read the book "The Five Truths You Must Discover Before You Die", by John Izzo, Ph.D. He describes how, after intimately interviewing more than 200 people whom their families and friends considered "wise people", he realised that although he himself had always lived service to others as his way of life, he hadn't made the effort to make any real friendships. Once he realised that and chose to change that state, he started to carry a little card in his pocket that reminded him of his intention to make friends.

    As you'd imagine, he, like the rest of us, found that what you focus on, grows. As he made more of an effort to be available to others in a casual environment, he found that some of these people became good friends.

    It _can_ be done. You don't have to go up to someone and say, "I need a friend, will you be my friend?" ... well, you could, of course, but it's not actually necessary. I find that if I am willing to be myself and really enjoy every interaction with people, some of those people want to get to know me, and I want to get to know them. In the course of that interaction, some become really good friends, some stay as acquaintances, but I know I'm richer for every person I've spoken to or interacted with over the 'net. It's NOT only family and neighbours and colleagues, you know - there are so many people out there! :)

    Just my 2 cents - a little long-winded, for which I apologize.

    Cheers,
    Maya
    - 12/1/2008   6:37:47 AM
  • 44
    I was never one to have "girlfriends" as they were always "competition" in school. I never belonged to a "click."
    I'm a very friendly, out-going person who can go into any group and easily meet new people, so I'm never lonely. - 12/1/2008   1:55:44 AM
  • SPINNYBOO
    43
    As much as I love hanging out with my best friend Karen ... she is 93 pounds soaking wet (at least 15 of those are her boobs) and she eats more than my hubby who is 6-foot-9!!!

    ...did I mention that she is a dead ringer for Angelina Jolie???

    ...oh but I love her just the way she is (and she me!) - 12/1/2008   1:16:13 AM
  • 42
    Remember to spend time with your daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, and mothers as well! These relatives can be your BEST girlfriends! - 11/30/2008   9:15:04 PM
  • 41
    I have 2 close friends from high school over 30 years, and I have just recently gotten hold of 2 others. We went out to dinner. It was a night of remember whens, OMG it was so much fun!! - 11/30/2008   9:06:07 PM
  • 40
    I wish us men could learn a thing or two from women, re: bonding with our buddies...typically it doesn't seem to rate very high on our list of priorities and I know I have to struggle to squeeze any of it in for myself!

    Most women seem to come by this naturally...of course I agree with Popeye that socially it is more acceptable for women to turn to each other for support than us men...even when we're together it can be tricky to get around to talking about *important* stuff!

    Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals SparkTeam - 11/30/2008   8:45:01 PM
  • 39
    I'm agoraphobic, so that certainly doesn't make it easy for me to gain and keep friends. I don't really feel isolated most of the time, as I have lots of online friends. But, it'd be nice to be able to hang out and actually feel comfortable around more people. - 11/30/2008   6:59:06 PM
  • 38
    For all of you girls feeling isolated, for crying out loud, go and find something fun to do! I didn't really have any close girlfriends until I started belly dancing. That's where I met my wonderful circle of sisters. Seriously, if you're feeling isolated and you don't like it, then go out and do something about it...no point in being miserable!
    It's also okay if you don't have any girlfriends IF you love your life and you don't feel like you're missing anything. For some people their families are enough of a social support group, and guess what? That's fine! It's all about what works for you. - 11/30/2008   6:27:51 PM
  • 37
    I have one girlfriend who lives 1700 miles away. everyone is so isolated, including me, I have a hard time making new friends. Consequently, I have no friends to hang out with. I live thousands of miles away from my mother, sisters, aunts. I wish I had at least one good friend nearby. I know that what this article says is true. - 11/30/2008   6:12:26 PM
  • 36
    I'm one of the maverick males here at SparkPeople, and I'm the Co-Founder of the biggest team on Spark, Dealing with Depression.

    While I've seen more signs of stress in women, I don't believe it's because women are under more stress. It's just culturally more acceptable for women to show and talk about stress.

    That "fight or flight" syndrome that "men" have is an intense shot of adrenalin, which in our current society has nowhere to go. Heart rate goes up, the body tenses up and the adrenaline is maintained in the brain - potentially physically harming both the hypothalamus and amygdala, particularly if the stress is maintained over a long period of time.

    It has been well documented that women report stress and attempt suicide twice as often as men. It is also documented that men succeed at killing themselves twice as often as women - a factor of four to one in men killing themselves through suicide. More often then not, it comes as a complete surprise to friends and relatives - including their spouse.

    You are doing a great job in helping women deal with stress - we're actually using the same techniques that yoou have written about. I, being the lone male moderator in the group, may well be the only one not to have read your book.

    Thanks for your comments, and thanks for verification that we are doing things for women in the same manner that others are doing.

    We have been successful in really "getting through" to one man in the four plus years I've been a moderator/motivator on DwD. Have you seen any articles that suggest that men "join a network of friends" or other ways to help combat depression as you have suggested to women? So far, the men have fought that advice tooth and nail whenever we've tried it - and if someone hadn't walked in on me when I was putting everything together, I would have succeeded in surprising everyone who knows me and would have never talked to anyone about my feelings.

    Most men have only one or two "friends" they trust enough to talk about dealing with ANY personal issues, much less stress or depression (at least, (as a combat veteran), I couldn't talk about my sense of worthlessness). Historically, depression or any other mental health issue has been a "women's disease", and men have been told to just "suck it up" or "get over it". "Only a wuss would let something like that keep a "man" from producing and being responsible enough to provide for his family.

    No, it doesn't make sense, but our physical wiring is not the only wiring that is different from a woman. - 11/30/2008   5:21:35 PM
  • 35
    I have retired and my friends have not so I feel separated from them but I am making more. Our connections are by phone and a seniors group in church. This has become very helpful. - 11/30/2008   4:24:21 PM
  • MELSMOM8
    34
    As I get older I realize how important friends are. Thankfully, I met one new friend at a prenatal exercise class when I first moved to Chicago. There is now a group of 6 of us. Our first babies were all born the same week and we have all had our second babies. We now plan "mom's night out" instead of playdates, but it is all good!! I don't have a hard time meeting people, but REAL friends are hard to come by. I thank God for the true friends that I have!! - 11/30/2008   3:13:11 PM
  • 33
    I don't think "fight ot flight" is only a masculine response, but I do agree that time with friends is relaxing. - 11/30/2008   2:19:37 PM
  • IMAGIN8
    32
    This is so great. I value my girlfriend a great deal, but to my sadness I've found that for many of them, once they get married and have children their priorities change - as though "girlfriends" are just a temporary crutch until something better comes along. And then something goes sideways with the hubby, or they split up, and with the wisdom of experience they realize how important and valuable lifelong friendships are. Friends - true friends - are very much a part of the family you make, not the one you are born with or give birth to. I'm happy that the message is getting out. - 11/30/2008   2:12:20 PM
  • HNOTTINGHAM
    31
    These sound like great ideas. Wish that I had a small group of girlfriends that I hang out with. The only ones that I have are the ones that I hang out with at work. - 11/30/2008   1:21:44 PM
  • 30
    I moved four years ago, but miss and stay in touch with the gal pals from where I raised my kids. I love them so and they love me. Fortunate! - 11/30/2008   1:14:07 PM

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