A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

7 reasons to value your female friendships

Image of female friends laughing and smiling together

Female friendships are a highly emotionally, mentally, and physically nourishing part of women’s lives.

Think about a time you had a girl’s day with your friends and felt like your heart was full by the time you said goodbye. Female friendships are a highly emotionally, mentally, and physically nourishing part of women’s lives. Let’s look at a few specific reasons for the importance of female friendships and why they’re worth prioritizing:

  1. Physical health benefits
  2. Someone who understands you
  3. Lower stress
  4. Opportunities for learning & growth
  5. Laughter is medicine
  6. Balance in your other relationships
  7. A longer, happier life

Below, read about the details and data on the importance of female friendships.

Physical health benefits

Friendships are good for your health in a myriad of ways. They can help boost immunity, stave off depression, and improve long-term health. When researchers studied factors like blood pressure, body mass index, and inflammation, they found that people with strong social connections also had lower health risks for conditions like these.

Someone who understands you

There are some topics that only a woman will really understand. Whether it’s a gynecologic health concern, a personal situation causing emotional turmoil, or relationship advice, female friends are often naturally intuitive and skilled at interpreting how we feel. Even more, they usually respond in just the right way. Often, we can feel comfortable divulging secrets, problems, feelings, and thoughts, knowing that we have a gal pal we can lean on.

Lower stress

Stress reduction is a recurring theme in studies about friendship. Time with friends can increase our “happy hormones” and help decrease stress. Reactions to stress are often divided into the categories of “fight or flight,” but many women feel a third instinct when the going gets tough: to seek out support from friends. It turns out that intuition has scientific roots. Studies at both Stanford and UCLA showed that when women experience stress, they release the hormone oxytocin. Part of its role has to do with social bonding or the instinct to “tend and befriend.” Female friendships help us feel unconditionally valued and accepted as we work through the source of our stress and ultimately find harmony once again.

Opportunities for learning & growth

The best female friendships are ones that push us to be our best. For better or worse, we are influenced by the company we keep, so it’s beneficial to build relationships with women who are supportive and encouraging. Good friends can help you maintain self-control, make smart life choices, achieve your health and fitness goals, and so much more. To get the most out of these relationships, look for things you can learn from all your girlfriends. Perhaps they have a healthy hobby you’d like to try, a technique for handling sticky situations with ease, or just a positive attitude about life. Spending time with those who have lessons to teach us can lead to some of the most rewarding bonds in life.

Laughter is medicine

Sending each other into fits of laughter is one of the best parts of girl time—from elementary-school sleepovers to adulthood. Whether reminiscing about a funny memory or sharing humorous happenings in each of your lives, there’s nothing better than losing yourself in a tear-inducing giggle with your friends. And from a health standpoint, laughter “therapy” is yet another reason to value your female friendships. It can strengthen your immune system and boost endorphins, among other benefits.

Balance in your other relationships

While we may love the other people in our lives – partners, children, parents – different people have different roles to play. Female friendships are important because they give us the chance to bounce ideas and problems off someone other than the people we live with. Having this space is healthy and lets us carve out precious time as individuals apart from family and other responsibilities. Spending time with friends can also give us a fresh perspective so we can charge ahead in our other relationships with grace and confidence.

A longer, happier life

Friends don’t just make our lives better and healthier—but longer too! Research shows that strong friendships can boost longevity by as much as 50%. To put the research in perspective, these findings are on par with the effects of quitting smoking and physical activity on the length of your life span. Another study found that women with female friendships were more likely to beat cancer. The findings also suggested that social and emotional support from a good girl squad led to fewer recurrences in the first few years after the diagnosis.

The importance of female friendships throughout every stage of life is undeniable. From health benefits and emotional support to increased longevity, having a social support network filled with good friends can help you thrive at any age.

To schedule an appointment with our doctors, midwives, and women’s health providers, call 920.885.6090 or contact us online.

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