Friday, June 22, 2012

Women Talking to Woman

In an evening class at Stanford the last lecture was on the
> mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease. The
> speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one
> of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a
> woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her
> health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first
> everyone laughed, but he was serious.
> Women connect with each other differently and provide support
> systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life
> experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time" helps is to create
> more serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can
> create a general feeling of well-being. Women share feelings
> whereas men often form relationships around activities. We share from our
> souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very GOOD for our
> health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to
> our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.
> There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are
> doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with
> friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively
> engaged—not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain
> quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our
> physical health as smoking!
I read the above on another blog which said, "copy this and share it" which is exactly what I'm doing.  I don't think it needs very much commentary by me.  I know I usually feel better after a talk with one or more women friends and I know that we share much more personal information than men do.  This happens in some online forums as well. On one, currently women are sharing their anxiety about a husband's chemotherapy, another about an auto accident in which daughter and granddaughter suffered serious injuries, another about having to admit her depressed husband to a mental hospital, another about her many volunteer activities and her estrangement from a son and grandchild, a couple about their family financial worries, and  so on -- it is not a sob sister site.  These are women in far flung places -- it seems all these difficulties descended at once -- it would be frivolous to ask, was it the sun flares? The women write understandingly and with concern. Face to face would be more satisfying, of course, but I believe even virtual sharing has a positive effect.  I can't imagine such an online conversation among men.


zippiknits said...

Great post.

Men are a lot more secretive about what they are sharing, talking only to very close friends or family,and one of the reasons is that they still see such sharing as a weakness. They are changing, though it's a slow change.

Ladydy5 aka: Diane Yates said...

I agree with all that is said on this subject June, but I like to have a one on one discussion with my friends not a group discussion, especially if there is something really upsetting me.
I am glad they have that forum to depress a bit. I have done a one on one with you via letters and have developed quite a rapur. I thank you for that.

Bev Sykes said...

This is one of my biggest disappointments. I expected to go into old age surrounded by lifetime friends, but my good friends have died, moved away, or moved on to other friends. Though we have lived in this town 39 years, and I have many acquaintances, there is not one woman I would feel comfortable calling in an emergency, much less pour out my soul to or even suggest having a cup of coffee together. My husband is not a talker, so I am so incredibly lonely.

June Calender said...

Thanks for your comments. Zip -- I hope men are changing however slowly.

Di, we have a nice rapport and if we lived nearby I'm sure we'd have long talks.

Bev, I cannot say there is any one woman I would call for a real heart to heart although, I think if I made a first move they would respond. I'm a loner by training (living on a farm with no one my age nearby) and by temperament - I only need occasional warm group gatherings. But I also have my daughter near by who is a great companion. We must discuss this subject a bit more via snail mail.


Interesting observation that you have not noticed men having online conversations with men. One practice I have noticed about older men is that they like to assemble in a small conversation group at a restaurant or small business. I have noticed this in all parts of the country; east to west, north to south -- small towns to larger towns -- from donut shops to Mcdonalds to benches outside of mom and pop eateries. Younger men appear to need a reason to sit and talk with other men -- like at a sports event or while playing cards, or a local coffee shop on their computers, etc. You have peeked my interest in women talk practices. -- barbara

June Calender said...

That's interesting, Barbara. I know there's such a tradition of older men gathering, but I haven't observed it. Maybe I wasn't looking. But I wonder if they talk in the personally revelatory way women do or do they mostly stick to sports and weather and, in rural areas, crops?

Elaine of Kalilily said...

For more than 20 years I had a group of close women friends, and we were there for each other through all kinds of personal crises. But now I live almost 100 miles away, and, while I try to drive in to visit with the group periodically, it's not the same. Luckily, I live with my daughter and her family, and she has become my closest friend. I still do miss commiserating frequently with women my own age. I've never joined any forums; not sure where I fit in.