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Tend and Befriend Overcomes Fight or Flight

A shout out to my friend Audrey for sending me this research on how women handle stress differently than men. Apparently women “tend and befriend” to overcome feelings of “fight or flight.”

It seems that a study from UCLA found women respond to stress differently than men. Something happens in the brain through 20 chemicals that drive women to reach out to other women. The study has been out since 2000, but I sure never heard about it. I contend here today that it’s similar to our bonds with dogs, which also produce oxytocin.

Most stress research over the last 50 years has been done on men, in case you didn’t know.

It turns out women have an option other than fight or flight. Often our stress response is to reach out to friends (and, I’d say … dogs), which releases more oxytocin and helps us feel better. There is something about estrogen that enhances this effect.

So, I say — having a bad day? Hug your dog.

Biobehavioral responses to stress in females: Tend-and-befriend, not fight-or-flight.
Psychological Review. Vol 107(3), Jul 2000, 411-429

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Mary - July 2, 2009

That explains why I’m so thankful for my friends and my animals.

Audrey - June 30, 2009

🙂 Thanks for the shout out!

Betty - June 30, 2009

I absolutely agree. In fact, I have a little sign on my wall which reads, “If all else fails, hug the dog!” That’s exactly what I do. Works every time.

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