With the many responsibilities of a typical mom, it behooves us to understand what strategies best help women deal with stress.
In her article, Women's Friendships Vital To Health, health care consultant, Teri Louden explains that women respond to stress differently than men do. A UCLA study suggests that women's response to stress involves a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.
In fact, one doctor notes that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response in a woman, it gives her the urge to tend children and gather with other women. Once she actually engages in this " tending or befriending," studies suggest that more oxytocin is released. As a result, the woman's stress is further calmed.
What's interesting is doctors claim that the same calming response does not occur in men because testosterone-which men produce in high levels when they're under stress-seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, however, seems to enhance it.
When I read this, I thought "No wonder God's prescription for our success as wives and mothers is partly centered around women teaching other women!" Titus 2:3-5 says, "The aged women..may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." This is part of God's will for our lives, to engage with other women in such a way that a transfer of knowledge can take place that will strengthen us in our roles as wives and mothers. Ultimately, that kind of interaction can have a huge impact on stress reduction. We really do need each other to survive!
Furthermore, I would also say that this "tend and befriend" notion is partly why so many of us moms follow and/or contribute to blogs. It is a way for us to connect and support each other. Just look around at the post and comments of various blogs. For the most part, you will find women engaging in meaningful and supportive discussion with an intergenerational and multicultural group of other women. Perhaps this is simply a "survival strategy" in this high-tech, information age.
When we look at scripture, and understand the basic biology of women in terms of how we handle stress, it helps us see that there has to be time for relationship with other women. God did not create us to go at life in isolation. Personally, I can attest to the fact that a good chat with a friend in the middle of a stressful day and/or a outing with other moms really does enhance my mood and my outlook on life. It helps to just talk to someone who can relate.
Now, who's up for a girls night out?!