Grab all of your girlfriends because science says you need a fun trip together
Sometimes you just need a weekend with friends where you go somewhere semi-exotic and eat copious amounts of gelato. Thankfully, there’s a study that indicates that girls trips are actually great for your mental health. So, grab your pals, pack your bags, and buy a plane ticket immediately. You’re doing it in the name of science.
Okay, first the nitty gritty. Southern Living pointed to a 2016 study that explained spending time with friends boosts the production of oxytocin, which is often called the “love” or “cuddle” hormone. Oxytocin is released when you’re in positive social situations and will make you feel trusting, empathetic, and all-around very happy. It’s also a great antidote for depressed and anxious feelings, which is even more of a reason to book some hang time ASAP.
Science also notes that oxytocin helps play an important role in orgasming – but that’s another conversation. Let’s stick to the girls trip for now.
Having friends who will spend a weekend with you where things get fun and a little weird isn’t just good for your mental health. It can also help you live longer. A 2010 meta analysis looked at data on more than 308,000 people in 148 studies and found that there’s a big connection between lifespan and social relationships.
“Actual and perceived social isolation are both associated with increased risk for early mortality,” researchers noted. “…Overall, the influence of both objective and subjective social isolation on risk for mortality is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality.”
It gets worse. A 2015 study, which looked at the data of more than 3.4 million people in 70 studies, found that a lack of social connections has the same health risk as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Are you currently terrified right now? Rethinking all those evenings spent re-watching reruns of Friends alone? Yup, me too.
Even though it’s tempting, you should remember that you can’t rely on online interactions to give you that important mental health boost. Glenn Sparks, a communications professor at Purdue University, explained to The Washington Post that people have swapped in-person social interactions for screen time – and that’s definitely not healthy.
“Today, you walk down that sidewalk and people are starting at their iPhones and iPads and in some cases even their laptops,” Sparks, co-author of “Refrigerator Rights: Creating Connections and Restoring Relationships, said. “Their ear buds are in and they’re gone into some virtual space. We think that really takes a toll on the relational health of any community.”
So, yup. That all adds up to the fact that we need some girlfriend getaway time STAT. Important side note: this study is probably not referring to bachelorette parties. Unless those parties include all of your best friends and not a bunch of strangers you have to pretend to get along with, there’s no “love” hormones being released there.