Never Mind Fight & Flight!! Who is Talking About Tend and Befriend, the Unsung Female Stress Response?!
The year is not over yet! There are whole seasons of serenity and 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. It 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, take 'me-time', improve their healthy habitus, and personally grow - everyone is doing their best.
It doesn’t matter whether you have money in the bank or not, a healthy partnership or not, eat seven serves of vegies a day or not; if you’re missing out on this one vital component that is central to our wellbeing, then it all falls down like a stack of elephants. And you 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?). It's easy to become jaded by expecting yourself to do or be it all.
The Importance of Accepting Connections
When a woman feels stress, she gets a rise in cortisol and 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-judgmental 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.
Find out more about oxytocin, social interactions and happiness here:
7 minute video at Huffington Post
Unfortunately seeking your begrudging ex, unavailable sister, or stale friendship just wont cut it! When met with antagonism, dismissive attitudes or judgement, stress hormones continue to rise. You need more than practical support or an obligatory listener- a woman also needs to know and feel, that the back up is coming from a willing and loving source. Once you fully utilise your web of support (read on for that), a lot of tension can drop away and you will feel revitalized by interacting with other great and kind people (leave behind the soul suckers).
What if the key to your wellbeing was as simple as a spider’s web?
What if making your own web of support could provide you with the emotional and physical resilience of spiders silk (which is greater than steel!)? If we all had a web, would we feel at breaking point as often or easy?
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
This 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?; who cooks you dinner when you are laid up with she-flow (period) pains? This simple little web of support can really help you identify how supported you are - and if those supports are healthy.
HINT: If a web doesn’t appeal to you, how about drawing a brightly colored flower, with you in the center and petals as your supports.
How Many Supports Is Enough?
Use the image below as a guide. Don’t worry if you have some boxes empty. When I first did this, 50% of my supports were empty, 25% were filled by long-term friends and the remainder were all my ex!!
It’s okay to have the same person in a number of support roles, just be aware that is the case. It could be that spaces are filled by paid professionals and that is okay too. After all, should you expect your friends to be your psychologist for anything more than life's usual ups and downs? Over time, as your healing journey continues, you may find more healthy relationships entering your life.
Other areas of life to include will vary for each woman but could be:
Do your very best to consider people 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 five course meal; don’t ask your child-avoiding little-sister to babysit.
Your New Mantra: "Let Me Disappoint You!"
If you are supporting friends and family, can you stop volunteering for tasks you don’t like? Why make cakes for the school fair when you despise baking and 20 other mums love it?
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!
PLUS - Here's a fun video from John Gray about the right(feminine) and left (masculine) sides of the brain, male and female stress responses, and how they affect your relationship!