Tend and Befriend – The Little Known Female Stress Response

2017 is not over yet Sisters!  There is a whole Summer of fun, Autumn of serenity and Winter of vitality to discover!  This article gives you a refreshing and fun new way to thrive for the rest of this year.  An unmissable, yet little talked about key to natural healing, that includes your friends and family, and will last for a lifetime! Can it really be this simple?  YES!

Most women are searching for peace – but most women are burned out.  Most women, including those with supportive partners and healthy kids, are feeling like they need to shut down.  Tired, sick and anxious.  One after another of emotional meltdowns, painful and irregular periods, tummy upsets, sore joints, migraines, recurrent infections, allergies and sleep deprivation; whilst they simultaneously attempt to work, care for family and support friendships!  Can you relate?

These are the same women making every effort to enjoy their life, to eat healthily, to take exercise and continue to personally grow.  It doesn’t matter whether you have money in the bank or not, a healthy partnership or not, eating 7 serves of vegies a day or not.  If you’re missing this one vital component that is central to our wellbeing, then it all falls down like a stack of elephants.  And you get tired.  Very tired.  Tired of trying to figure it all out.  Where is that elusive ‘Optimised Me!’ that all the magazine covers declare you can have in a week (if you only follow this eating or exercise or meditation program?).

The Importance of Accepting Connections

It’s easy to become jaded by expecting yourself to do it all;   Realise that lack of positive support can affect you on every level, including stress hormones.

When a woman feels stress, she gets a rise in cortisol yes, but also oxytocin.  This ‘bonding’ hormone as it’s commonly known, propels women to seek positive connections she can share with.  After you have had a chat with your ever-loving Mum, non-judgemental bestie or understanding colleague, your cortisol dips and oxytocin continues to rise – you feel calm and relaxed as stress hormones are set back to zero

Unfortunately seeking your begrudging ex, unavailable sister, or stale friendship just wont cut it!  You done just need practical support – a woman also needs to know and feel, that the back up is coming from a willing and loving source.  When met with antagonism, dismissive attitudes or judgement, stress hormones continue to rise.

Once you fully utilise your web of support, a lot of tension can drop away and you will feel revitalised by interacting with other great and kind people (and not the soul suckers).

Natural Life fulfils all of our needs
What if the key to your wellbeing was as simple as a spider’s web?  What if making your own web could provide you with the emotional and physical resilience of spiders silk (which is greater than steel!) whilst still providing some mental and schedule flexibility?  If we all had a web, would we break or feel fragmented as easily?
The great news is you don’t have to start finding 13 more hours in a day to make a web!  No, all you need is a piece of paper and pen, a cup of tea, and even better would be to gather a friend (or 4!) to do this together!  Ready? Let’s go!

Your web of support…
….is where you capture all of your people resources – family, partners, kids, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, employees and more.  This includes who you can call when your car breaks down and the kids need picking up from school.  Who can you reach out to when you have a whole afternoon for yourself and want to go to the beach or the movies?  Who are those besties who you know will accept you in your deepest emotional turmoil?  Who cleans the house when business is thriving and you don’t get a chance? And who cooks you dinner when it’s the first day of your period?

Use the image below as a guide.  Don’t worry if you have some boxes empty:

Image provided with permission by the Integrative Women's Health Institute.
Image provided with permission by the Integrative Women’s Health Institute.

When I first did this 2 years ago, I realised that 50% of my supports were empty, 25% were filled by long-term friends and the remainder were all my ex!! Yes, the simple little web of support can really help you identify how supported you are – and if those supports are healthy!!

How Many Supports Is Enough?

It’s okay to have the same person in a number of support roles, but over time, try to create diversity in your web by getting 2 or 3 people in each niche.  And if a web doesn’t turn you on, how about drawing a brightly coloured flower, with you in the centre and the petals as niches?

Ideas for niches will vary for each woman but could include:

  • Child care
  • Shoulder to cry on
  • Fun and free time
  • Car rides
  • Friends that enjoy the same hobbies
  • Cook me dinner on first day of period
  • Veggie gardening
  • Business support
  • Cover at work if you’re sick
  • Household help
  • Yoga/walking/meditation buddy
  • Travel friends

Make sure you pick people who you know can provide positive reinforcement and enjoy the tasks.  For instance, don’t ask your fitness guru friend who has never shown an interest in cooking to help you prepare a 5 course meal; and don’t ask your child-avoiding little-sister to babysit.

Your new Mantra: “Let Me Disappoint You!”

If you are supporting friends and family, just stop volunteering for tasks you don’t even like!  Why make cakes for the school fair when you despise baking and 20 other mums love it?  If you have a carefree life, spare time and love grocery shopping then support your mummy friends by doing the shop for them (take their list….and their credit card!).  Know a friend eats the same healthy style as you?…Swap making lunches once a week, but for goodness sake don’t offer to mend her clothes if you hate sewing!

The web of support can take some time to develop so keep chipping away at it this year.  Once you open up to the reality of some friendly reinforcement, you’ll be surprised at what can happen!

Find out more about oxytocin, social interactions and happiness here: 7 minute video at Huffington Post

PLUS – Here’s a fun video from John Gray about the right(feminine) and left (masculine) sides of the brain and how they affect your relationship!

About Claire Bhavani

www.thesistahood.org

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