Create Spaces for Stress-Busting Time with Friends
No doubt about it, we are living in stressful times. A UCLA study, coauthored by Laura Cousino Klein, Ph.D, describes the unique ways women respond to stress. Women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just “fight or flight.” When women are stressed their brains produce oxytocin, which calms and creates an urge to “tend and befriend.” When women are able to care for others or spend time with their friends this response is increased. While estrogen enhances this effect, the testosterone that men produce hinders this response; unfortunately this is a woman-only phenomenon. Women! set-up Stress-buster spaces in your home for girls-only time for support and fun.
Interestingly, more and more people are networking for new jobs, new contacts and mutual support. Many women are online networking, face-to-face networking at professional events, and “getting together with the girls” for informal social support and relaxation.
Here are three ways you can improve your home to support these activities:
Create a Calm and Focused Workspace
Whether you are using your computer for a job search, social media contacts (LinkedIn or Facebook), or simply emailing friends and colleagues to keep in touch and your ear to the ground, you need a designated space for you and your computer. If you have your own home office – Great! If not, claim your space – you deserve it – you need it. Too often my women clients “make do.” Set up a desk in an underused guest room or dining room. Wherever you are working should be reasonably organized. Aim for ease and order, not perfection. Minimize distractions. Put up a “Woman at Work” sign if need be. Studies show that when distracted, people are 50% less efficient and make 50% more errors. This means, working on your laptop while watching TV is counter-productive. Make sure you have good lighting for your desk – ceiling mounted lights are inadequate – you need a lamp on your work surface with a “warm white” light bulb.
Assess, Organize and Play with Your Wardrobe
If you are going to any professional networking events the unspoken standard is “professional dress.” Suits or other professional wear will have you looking your best and feel confident. Confidence about your looks is a powerful stress-buster. Now is a great time to go through your wardrobe and find those things that make you feel fabulous when you are wearing them. Check clothes and accessories for fit, needed repairs, and if the style expresses who you are now. Doing a deep decluttering of your closet and bureau, you will rediscover some lost treasures as well as things you can let go. Now the fun part: play around with different combinations of clothes and accessories to see if you can create new looks. Add a belt to an outfit you have never belted before. A different pair of shoes can jazz-up an ensemble. Try things on and mentally plan what you can wear before an event. Now, when you walk into a roomful of new people, you know you look smashing.
“Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women. We push them right to the back burner. That’s really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have un-pressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they’re with other women. It’s a very healing experience. ” – Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of “Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls and Women’s Friendships” (Three Rivers Press, 1998).
Make a Stress-Buster Space for Girls’ Night-In
Girls’ night-out is fun, but can stress your budget. How about a pot luck girls’ night-in, or simply coffee and tea with a sweet, or wine and something savory. Keep the menu simple. The focus is time with friends, not the food. If it is a potluck, kick your family out of the kitchen for the duration. If it is coffee or drinks with simple nibbles then commander the living room, or a sunroom or patio. Claim a space and make it comfortable: to kick back and share and laugh and have fun. An architectural psychology tip: to create connection choose cozy over formal, crowded over spread out.
One of the key concepts of both Feng Shui and Architectural Psychology is that creating space for a task, activity or goal supports your intentions, both energetically and psychologically. Create space to make your life and your goals easier.
photo by Bee Wolf Ray