It’s time to grab your bags, gather your gal-pals, and get out of town. Prioritizing a girls weekend can do more for your mental health than you realize.
What is it about a girls getaway that supercharges us in a way nothing else can?
There is something powerful in connecting with friends who can truly empathize with what you’re feeling — because she’s either been there or is going through it right along with you. Which is why a girls weekend is so important. Getting away from the daily grid with your friends can recharge you in a way nothing else can.
The Science Behind Female Friends
The research and studies prove there are tangible benefits of female friendship. Both Standford and UCLA examined the increased levels of oxytocin and serotonin released when women spent more time together. This surge helped alleviate stress levels and provide a needed connection.
These two powerful chemicals are sometimes referred to as the bonding hormones because of the way our body reacts when they’re released. When we feel support our body surges with a hit of oxytocin and the good feelings of serotonin help us feel safe and relaxed in the presence of our friends. Our body carefully orchestrates the flow of these chemicals to help us act on urges to meet our needs (Breuning).
It becomes even more critical to maintain these bonds of friendship as we age. Alisa Ruby Bash, PsyD, LMFT says: “We get busier, with more responsibilities. It makes us feel nurtured and validated to hang out with friends we can be totally ourselves [with], minus the outside pressures.” It is our closest friendships that calm our turbulent inner world, heal the emotional voids in family relationships, and support us in remembering who we really are.
We are a tribal people. Survival used to mean sticking together and staying in groups. While our physical survival is no longer dependent on remaining with our tribe, our need to emotionally and mentally connect is still linked to our primal instincts.
Once I year I indulge in the best kind of mental and emotional therapy. For over a decade, my friends and I have used our weekends together to share our pain, pour out our souls, and mend our hearts. Whether it’s our latest trial with parenting, our struggles with life, or trying to heal our bruised ego no one understands the issues I’m trying to balance like my dearest friends.
Years ago we started getting together for lunch once a month. From the beginning, we were connected in random ways which almost made the combination more enjoyable. As the years passed and our children turned into teens we became a support group for each other, a place we could turn when life felt like it was falling apart.
We’re now spread across two states and nearly 700 miles. Our kids are almost all grown, and we are entering new stages and phases of life — but our girls weekend is still a time to recharge and connect.
8 Ways Your Tribe Can Help YOU
1 | Laughter
How long has it been since you laughed until your side hurt (or maybe peed your pants)? If it’s been more than a year, it’s time for a weekend away! Have you ever noticed how much closer you feel with someone after sharing a good laugh? Laughter triggers an increase in endorphins, the feel-good chemical, which helps us bond. It’s true, laughter not only burns calories, but it relieves stress, relaxes our body, and even improves circulation. Imagine how many health benefits an entire weekend full of laughter with your girlfriends might have.
2 | Connection
Social isolation is a growing epidemic, creating pathological loneliness. The reasons are clearly related to technology, social media, and social comparison. But with your besties, you can put those feelings of isolation aside and connect in a real and personal way. Our time together is one of acceptance and love. There is no room for criticism. I feel loved despite my bedhead and snoring. Makeup is optional.
3 | Embrace Your Silly Side
There’s no judgment and total acceptance when I’m together with my friends. Admit it. Life can be too serious, and an opportunity to let go of the normal and unleash the silly is a welcome change. Typically our weekends include a few hours of shopping, and at some point, we all end up in the same fitting room trying on anything from bras to formal wear.
We’ve given belly dancing a giggle, and pulled into a full downward dog when we practiced yoga -all with no worries of being self-conscious. Letting go of our somber side can be an instant boost for anyone.
4 | Girl Talk
I’m not one to stay up into the wee hours of the night, but when I’m with my gang time seems to lose all meaning. We get talking about problems we need to be solved, the aches and pains of growing older, the latest books we’ve read, or even a new spiritual insight we’ve gained. And sometimes we just need to vent.
Two days of girl talk can leave you feeling like a load has been lifted from your shoulders. You feel inspired to be better, and the things you came with — the ones you thought were bringing you down — are but a distant memory. There is nothing better than sharing with a group of women who appreciate and understand.
5 | Exercise
When you’re away with the girls there aren’t any restrictions or arrangements to be made if you want to go exercise. We love going on a morning hike. With the mountains right at our doorstep, we can jump on the trail and go until we want to turn around. Some of us go farther, but the beautiful thing is you have a built-in training buddy. Escaping my daily commitments and schedule makes exercise without the pressure so much more enjoyable.
6 | Encouragement and Confidence Boost
Who could ask for a better group of cheerleaders! In fact, as I started writing this article I sent out a MarcoPolo. Not only did I need a little reassurance this was a good topic, but I also wanted their input about our time together. It’s wonderful to be connected to a group of ladies who love me for who I am, cheer for my success and cry with me when I fail. Our girls weekend is a safe place full of encouragement for building a happier marriage, support for untangling tricky family messes, and a boost in our confidence as we continue in the process of becoming our best self.
7 | Favorite Things
One of our traditions is to share a favorite thing. It’s a tad like Christmas morning when we all pull out our gifts. There is an excitement in the air, but it’s not because we are eager to get a little token from the weekend. No, it’s about learning a new little tidbit about my friends. Our favorite things have helped us understand and connect in an unexpected way. We learn about new favorite books, hair tips, comfy jammies, gadgets to make life easier and share our love of simple things.
8 | Happiness
I think the most important benefit of our girls weekends is how I feel when I walk away. As women, we can find something every day to be happy about, but after a weekend away all of the good in my life seems to be 100% brighter. I feel a renewed joy at the good all around me. The hard and not so fun stuff is still there, but I have a new perspective about digging in to tackle it all. True happiness opens our heart to explore new possibilities in our everyday life.
I only have to check the calendar with my husband before scheduling our girls weekend each year. I don’t have to ask if he can cover for me, or wonder if he really wants me to go. He has learned how valuable this time is for me and my renewal. I come back with a greater appreciation for him and the life we have together.
After laughing and connecting, embracing my silly side and hours of girl talk I feel loved and encouraged. There is a science behind why I come home feeling so good. It’s not some sort of unexplained phenomenon. As women, we need to connect with other women and the best way to do it is by making our time together a priority.
In the comments share one of the best things you’ve gained from a girls weekend.
Goldman, Bruce. “ Love hormone’ may play a wider role in social interaction than previously thought.” Standford Medicine, Studies at Standford: 2013.
Berkowitz, Gale. “UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women.” UCLA Study: 2002.
Breuning, Loretta Graziano. The Science of Positivity. Adams Media, MA:(2017). p. 23–24,93. The Science of Positivity
Originally published at https://www.choosingwisdom.org.