I’ve always had close girlfriends, and in fact, several of my closest childhood friends are still in my life today, thankfully.
I learned the value of having girlfriends early on.
My mom was a “woman’s woman” and she passed that gene along to me. I can’t remember a time that mom didn’t have a close circle of girlfriends in her life. They worked together, played bridge together, raised their kids together, supported and loved each other through many celebrations, and a few too many heartbreaks.
What I remember most though was how much fun and laughter she shared with her friends. And she told me, and often demonstrated, that true friends are always there for you through thick and thin.
Taking a cue from mom, I’m fortunate to have a solid and loving network of friends.
My life-earned friends are like my family. They are my rock, my safe port in a storm, and more entertaining than the best of SNL.
Whether it’s the monthly book group, a wine chat, a regular weekly call, a girls’ night out for dinner and drinks, or a cherished annual Palm Springs getaway, any time spent with a friend leaves me with a sense of peace and joy, and a general feeling that all is right in my world.
Nowadays, I feel the kinship of women more . . . well, keenly.
Maybe it’s because I now have a bit more time to ponder life’s treasures, but the profound contentment these women bring to my life truly makes my life whole.
There is science that proves that the contentment is real, and that our friends are quite literally good for our health and well-being.
According to a landmark UCLA study published several years ago, researchers found that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.
And they suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight in stressful situations. In fact, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response, and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead – what they call engaging in “tending and befriending.” Which then triggers the release of more oxytocin, causing a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men. Estrogen seems to enhance it. This finding turned five decades of stress research – most of it on men – upside down.
Another famed study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life.
I think women have known all along that our friendships were special – and vital. It’s nice to know science finally caught up.
And the good news is that it’s never too late to make a new friend – or reach out and reconnect with an old one.
As I continue to evolve and age, I’m ever so grateful to have my friends nearby.
How about you? Are you spending more time with friends now as some life commitments have ebbed a bit? And are you ready to schedule another nonstop “talking, sharing, laughing until you can’t breathe” kind of time with your friends?
I know I am.
Till next time,
P.S. I know this is a bit early for a reminder, but I just found out about it myself. It seems that National Girlfriends Day is an annual holiday commemorated every year on August 1st. While its origins are “unknown,” we need no convincing to embrace a day that celebrates the friendships between women. Sounds like another nice way to remind us to cherish all the women we know – girlfriends, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, etc. – who make our lives better.