Women and stress
We all deal with stressful things like traffic, arguments with spouses, and job problems. Some researchers think that women handle stress in a unique way--tending and befriending.
- Tend : women protect and care for their children
- Befriend : women seek out and receive social support
During stress, women tend to care for their children and find support from their female friends. Women's bodies make chemicals that are believed to promote these responses. One of these chemicals is oxytocin, which has a calming effect during stress. This is the same chemical released during childbirth and found at higher levels in breastfeeding mothers, who are believed to be calmer and more social than women who don't breastfeed. Women also have the hormone estrogen, which boosts the effects of oxytocin. Men, however, have high levels of testosterone during stress, which blocks the calming effects of oxytocin and causes hostility, withdrawal, and anger.