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July 24, 2012 06:06 PM

Women Help Women Reduce Stress

sioux falls, sd

New evidence shows being with your friends can make a difference in your health.  Research shows when women spend time with friends, they release a hormone that can help reduce stress and increase happiness.

It's three's company, as friends Nancy Bechtold, Mary VanLoh, and Heather Jacobson set aside time to chat before getting in a workout.

"Family and friends are the two most important things," Bechtold said.

"My kids are still young.  So I don't put my burdens onto them, so they get my burdens," Jacobson said.

"One, it's a venting place for us. We can share what's going on in our lives. We can let someone help us process something through and use that as a coping skill to manage our stress," Sanford Certified Wellness and Fitness Coach Shelly Hoefs said.

Research also shows women release more oxytocin, a hormone that produces a calming effect, when tending to relationships.

"When we can manage our stress better, we're better able to think clearly, to make choices that are beneficial to our health, and we can move forward in our life and experience joy," Hoefs said.

While research shows women can help fight stress through friendships, the same can not be said of men because of their high testosterone levels when stressed out.

"They don't notice that as much. Their natural hormones are different," Hoefs said.

But for someone such as Jacobson who has five kids, it can be difficult to fit friendships in. Hoefs recommends chatting with friends while eating or working out.

"I wouldn't have exercised if my good friend didn't lure me in," VanLoh said.

It's just another reason why she's making these people a priority.

"When you're young, you probably don't realize it as much.  But I think as you get older, it becomes one of the key ingredients to happiness," VanLoh said.

If you're having trouble making friends or are new to an area, Hoefs recommends joining an organization or class. That makes it easier to find people who enjoy similar hobbies and interests.

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