Why Female Friendships Are Very Important For Our Mental Health
Life is unpredictable, right? Today, I may be chilling at my house, with my worries having temporarily evaporated out of my mind. Tomorrow, I could be heartbroken over memories of a boi I loved and lost. Well, we all have lame moments like these – wherein we overthink, we cry, and tend to feel things are way more difficult than they really are. It’s like we are these independent women, living our lives, navigating through our own share of obstacles, weaving our love stories, dating and failing and dating again, and hustling for our goals. It can get pretty lonely when you are out there, without a safety net where you can lay out your life story like it is, unfiltered without judgement. If you’re blessed, female friendships will offer you just that.
Boys will come and go. You may get married and have a permanent man in your life. But the kind of solace you will find when you pour your heart out in front of your girlfriends is an experience you cannot miss. The peace-evoking experience of just heading out with your gal pal for a late-night drive, stopping for a cutting chai is priceless. The thrill of escaping the city with your female friends, and being yourself with other humans who get you, your story, your struggles, and who share your idea of fun is unbeatable.
You can pour your heart out
“Women’s friendships with other women help protect their mental health, providing a source of support, particularly in hard times or at times of loss or change. Mentally healthy women generally talk about their feelings more than men and more often have stronger social networks of friends and family. They are more likely to tell someone when they are troubled, whether it is someone they are close to or someone who can offer medical advice. Good social support can play a part in preventing mental ill health and can help people recover from mental health problems,” reports mentalhealth.org.uk
That’s what we do, right? Sex And The City, Four More Shots Please, Veere Di Wedding, Queen, etc celebrate female friendships with an underlying theme of social support required for nurturing our mental health.
Our girl squad can be our safety net
Women who tend to have more female friends show lower stress levels thanks to the happy and bonding hormones. “Research shows that women, [possibly] more than men, need to maintain those connections. It increases serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone,” Alisa Ruby Bash, PsyD, LMFT tells Healthline.com. Research by Stanford University also suggests that when women do feel stressed, we don’t just experience the typical fight or flight response but also what is called “tend and befriend”. This is usually associated with the instinct to protect our kids but also to connect with other women we trust and can rely on. We build this network as a way of self-preservation and to offer support to each other.
And as we grow older, with added opportunities of proven nurturing in our female friendships, these become even more important to us. “It makes us feel nurtured and validated to hang out with friends we can be totally ourselves [with], minus the outside pressures,” Bash explains.
We feel understood and not judged
Why do I love my female friendships so much? We’ve seen each other’s mistakes, we support each other’s right to choose and yet we are there when those choices fail. When my close friend was an emotional mess, she felt safe with me. She knew I wouldn’t judge her or be condescending to her. Similarly, as friends, we support each other’s choices, priorities, and struggles. Your best friend may be getting married or having a baby, and it will definitely mean she won’t be able to spend much time with you. But women support each other. You could be busy making a career, travelling around the world but when you come back with your stories, your best friends will make you feel loved, heard, and accepted.
In the end, just the feeling of being understood and not judged reduces our anxiety. “A recent study in Mindfulness Magazine (July 2010) found that the participants who rated highest on nonjudgmental also had lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress related symptoms. The study examined different facets of mindfulness, including observing, or attending to thoughts, feelings, perceptions, or sensations; describing or labeling; acting with awareness; non-reactivity to inner experience, and non-judging of experience. In the study both acting with awareness and nonjudgmental thinking were the most important facets in predicting psychological well-being. Acting with awareness was particularly relevant to depression,” reports mentalhelp.net.
ALSO READ: Having A Fight With Your Best Friend Feels Worse Than One With Your Boyfriend. Here’s Why
You feel less lonely
What would I do without my female friends? The way we celebrate Galentine’s day, how we are there to cheer each other up when we are PMSing, how we can bitch all we want about the fuckboi we now commonly hate – it’s too precious.
Tomorrow, I know if I feel lonely, I can simply pick up the phone and call my besties. They give you a sense of belonging. And did you know, research says people who have a good network of supportive friends feel less lonely when they are single? You could be single or committed but with your gal pals, and a little self-love, your loneliness will be out of the window. In fact, the way our female friends hype us, it’s just so confidence-boosting. We need this!