One of the rhythms I’ve fallen into over the last 12 months or so is having regular coffees with other mums from school. There’s a core group of about a dozen or so of us and whoever is about on a given day will turn up. Some days we bolster one of our unit who is struggling with something. Other days we have loud riotous conversations that lead to happy tears and challenged pelvic floors. Some days we can do both. At the same time. We can be noisy but the manager of the cafe assures us she loves the energy we bring to the place.
For the first year or so of my son being at school I had struggled to find my place socially. I’m shy around new people anyway and it was compounded by not always being around as I was carpooling with another family. I felt like ‘everyone’ was in firm friendship groups and I was the outsider. Talk about being 13 again!
An invitation was extended one day by some women I was slowly getting to know and so off I went to coffee. Now I’m a permanent fixture.
At first, it was just a nice friendly outing and I enjoyed feeling part of a group, not so alone. I began to look forward to it. I noticed that it didn’t matter how bad I felt beforehand – stressed, depressed, anxious, exhausted – I always left feeling energised and more ready to tackle the day. It felt therapeutic, medicinal.
COFFEE DATES AS SELF CARE
Here are some awesome reasons why having coffee with your girlfriends regularly is good for your health.
1. We Crave Connection
For some time it has been thought that human beings are hard wired for connection, that is one of our universal needs along with things such as food and water. Modern neuroscience is now able to show this using functional magnetic imaging resonance (fMRI).
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Connection is belonging. It is me too, you are not alone. It nourishes and supports us.
2. Increase Your Oxytocin Levels
Oxytocin is the hormone relaxed during labour and breastfeeding that facilitates the birth and bonding process. It also functions as a neurotransmitter, increasing in the brain as well as the body, leading to elevated mood or increased euphoria.
Laughter, hugs, eye contact, sharing a meal all increase our oxytocin levels which means that coffee with the girls is a social anti-depressant. Take up a regular prescription!
3. Increase Your Life Expectancy
Researchers have found that women who have regular contact with their female friends have a longer life expectancy. In fact, a lack of regular interaction can be as bad for your health as smoking or gaining weight.
So next time anyone questions what you did that day when you’ve been busy having coffee with the girls, you can cheerfully and truthfully say that you were taking important care of your physical and emotional well-being and that your loved ones will reap the rewards.
Do you catch up with your girlfriends on a regular basis? How do you meet your need for connection?