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Happy National Women's Friendship Day

National Women's Friendship Month first began as National Women's Friendship Day in 1999 (celebrated the third Sunday in September each year).

Following the 10th anniversary of National Women's Friendship Day in 2008, it became apparent that one day just wasn't enough, so the celebration was expanded to the entire month of September beginning in 2009.

"All women find strength, comfort and inspiration from their girlfriends," said Melanie Schild, Executive Director of Kappa Delta and the brains behind the creation of the celebration. "In a time of increasing demands, we want to encourage women to take the time to nurture and celebrate these important relationships."

Plus a landmark study by UCLA suggests that friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. But they may do even more. Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis.

"Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible," explains Laura Cousino Klein, PhD, now an assistant professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University in State College and one of the study's authors. It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers. Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just "fight or flight.

"In fact, says Dr.Klein, "it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight" response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone- which men produce in high levels when they're under stress- seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.(Yay - finally estrogen is a good thing.)

The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friend or confidante was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight!

Click these links to read more about the National Women's Friendship Month and the UCLA study.

Celebrate!!!!!

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