June 29

What If I Told You That “fight or flight” isn’t our automatic stress response?


Have you ever wondered why it feels sooooo good to hang out with some of your closest girlfriends? Why sometimes we crave time with other women? Why, even when we feel like being with other women is ‘too hard’ or ‘too competitive’, there is still a longing for sisters   

The answer will come to you like a deep remembering.

Women are biologically wired to feel at ease with other women. When we connect with other women our stress hormones decrease and our happy hormones increase. We are therefore able to feel pure potent pleasure which is the foundation of our existence. Our pleasure (physical and emotional) and our desires make up our internal gps and when we off route from pleasure we encounter issues.

When women gather we are able to experience this pleasure. It is biological and cellular.

As children, most of us were taught that our automatic stress response is that of “fight, flight or freeze”. Right? But, studies have shown that for women our automatic stress response is actually to “Tend and Befriend.”

Tend= Quieting and Caring for children, Get out of harm’s way Befriend= Create social networks to provide resources and protection for ourselves and our family.

Testosterone can inhibit oxytocin, thus fight or flight is the more common response in men. But estrogen increases the effects of oxytocin which promotes the affiliate behaviour of the tend and befriend response in order to protect oneself and children.

Oxytocin is the love hormone. It helps to destress, relax, reduce anxiety, find clarity for the next decision, feel pleasure, assists with healing and growth, and immune system, improves health and wellbeing.

Women can’t often fight or run because of their need to protect their children as well as themselves so instead the way to lower the stress as a response to a potential threat is to unite together, befriend one another and protect the children, animals and each other together. This response of uniting together lowers blood pressure, heart rate and adrenaline.

In one particular study, female rats that were caged together lived 40% longer and defended together against threats. In another study it was reported that women who spent more time with other women felt less lonely than women who spent more time with men. Men who stated they had supportive wives were shown to have less stress than those who didn’t.

If you’re feeling stressed, isolated or overwhelmed your biology is yearning for connection and you will feel better when you are supported by other women. This is why I am so passionate about creating a supportive community for birthworkers and mothers because we cannot do this work alone. We are not meant to work in isolation. You will not survive. Your inner wild is built for connection. We need each other. This birth culture is uncertain and draining. Let’s tend and befriend because together we can do so much more.

Are you a doula in your first 12 months of business? THRIVE for doulas is a supportive mentorship and mastermind supporting new doulas to reduce the overwhelm and thrive in life and business. And If you’re in Adelaide, @nurturethegoddess and I are back running circles! These are the perfect places to reduce stress by honouring your natural call to tend and befriend.


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