Happy “Gal”entines to my 94 year old girlfriend! I called to talk to Mimi this morning, and I got voicemail. It’s hard to catch her. No doubt she’s out doing something for a friend, with a friend, or a group of friends. I’ll hear about it later, when she calls me back. Mimi is the original girlfriend. Her friends and her community count on her to be there with her energy, creativity and ingenuity-and she delivers. She still drives around her hometown in her Jeep Grand Cherokee. The other day she told me she wheeled into a drive- through on her way home from her women’s group, and was telling the window attendee about the overwhelming, and very rare craving she was having for a burger. It had been so long since I have had one. “I don’t usually eat like this, she said.” I giggled to myself picturing the drive-through attendee taking her order to this account. Anyway, she’s got it going on.. you get the picture.
When she comes to visit me, she’s looking for a project. We spend time together creating arrangements, making things, talking and laughing. And she LOVES to iron linen napkins, a real plus! Friends and I often marvel at her stamina and daily output, for a woman of her age-heck for a woman of any age! What keeps her engines running? Along with personal health routines, she says she is fueled by daily experiences with friends and family. She’s out there offering friendship daily, attending events to support her friends, spending productive time together, working on projects, lunching-no wonder I can’t catch her on the phone, right?
A friend recently shared an article published by Creative Healthy Family, with a subject on women’s health, that immediately brought the mantra of Mimi to mind. Researchers from the University of Oxford concluded that women’s overall health and wellbeing is improved when they frequently spend time “doing things” with their female friends. Siting that women should get together in groups at least twice a week to “do things”. The list of things from the study include physical activities such as walking, or exercise, and productive activities like making things, but also activities that cause women to socialize, talk and laugh (drinking beer and wine even made the cut!) Health benefits included a stronger immune system, faster recovery time, a decrease in anxiety levels, and increased generosity.
I’ve always felt laughter is the best medicine, but in the article I learned that scientific studies align.
“Research shows that women, [possibly] more than men, need to maintain those connections. It increases serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone,” says Alisa Ruby Bash, PsyD, LMFT. Studies at Stanford seem to confirm this, as did a UCLA study showing that in times of stress, women don’t just experience the drive toward fight or flight — they also release oxytocin. This hormonal surge can compel women to “tend and befriend,” a.k.a., to protect their kids (if they have them), but also to connect with other women.So Happy Galentines! Take a walk with a female friend, say yes to lunch with the girls-wine anyone? It’s good for your health!
PS By the time I finished writing this post, she had called me back-between “senior choir” and “republican women” Exactly:)