Time spent with friends is more than just a fun time. It’s good for you, too. Scientists are discovering what women have always known. Time spent with the girls soothes stress. “Hanging out with women friends increases prolactin levels. Prolactin is a bonding hormone that also decreases stress,” says Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. “Going to movies together, meeting for cappuccino, or simply having a date for taking walks together — all of these are great ways to decrease stress.”
Getting together with female friends provides you with a chance to talk, listen, laugh, and feel completely understood. “The older you get, the harder it is to make time for girlfriends because you have husbands and kids and jobs,” says Laura Maffeo, author of Girls’ Night In: Fabulous Ideas for Evenings with Friends. “So just being able to catch up and giggle and not deal with daily life stuff is great.”
Nurturing yourself and your friends at a local day spa can be done easily at home, or pack up everyone and escape to a destination spa. Get together with your friends for a collective brainstorming session and plan your soothing retreat.
A landmark travel survey on women travelers shows that girlfriend getaways are very popular, in part because American women feel the need to escape their personal and professional responsibilities. The report also shows that vacations including just girlfriends and female family members ease stress and have become an important part of the lives of American women.
The survey, conducted by AAA and Aspire Marketing, is the most comprehensive study of the girlfriend getaways travel market. The report found that 24 percent of American women have taken a girlfriend getaway in the past three years, and 39 percent of American women plan on taking one in the next three years.
“The experience of a girlfriend getaway has a deep effect on the lives and friendships of women who take these types of trips, and many believe that going away with their girlfriends is important, regardless of the destination” said Betsy Sell, managing director of AAA Travel. ”In fact, 62 percent of women who plan on going on a girlfriend getaway in the next three years said that taking a future trip is as important today as it was when they took their last trip with girlfriends.”
This comprehensive report included an online survey of 1,500 women, a telephone survey of 513 women and telephone focus groups of 16 women. Women participating in the survey said that while the most common destinations include the beach (66 percent), going to the spa (63 percent), taking a shopping trip (55 percent) or taking a cruise (51 percent), they were very clear that the destination and the accommodations are incidental to the primary purpose of a girlfriend getaway, spending time bonding with their female friends and family. The women in the focus groups talked about how important these trips are for them, saying they feel more self-confident, adventurous and relaxed as a result of their girlfriend getaway. It is a time for women to share common experiences, and get validation and acceptance from their female friends and family.
Husbands, significant others and children of these women, have no fear. The AAA / Aspire study shows that women are not going on girlfriend getaways just to get away from you. Only thirty-four percent of women gave “break from significant other” as the reason for a getaway, but they do talk about you when they’re away. The vast majority (79 percent) admitted that men or their significant other are the most frequently talked about topics. So while we are gone, you can be sure that you are not forgotten.