[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NKJV) 

We’re people who need people.

And no, that’s not just a lyric from Funny Girl. It’s real. It’s biblical. And it’s an important part of what makes us God’s image bearers. There are countless scriptures confirming this truth (Proverbs 27:17, Hebrews 10:24-25, Genesis 2:18), but now science is also showing the proof.

A UCLA study done in 2000 looked at how women cope with stress. What they learned was women were more likely to exhibit what’s called the “tend and befriend” response when confronted with stressful conditions. What is “tend and befriend”? You know it as the “call-mom” cure after a crazy day, or your weekly “pedi-with-the-girls” therapy session. And interestingly, this instinct to reach out and connect is mainly found to be characteristic of females, pointing to the importance of friendship and community for a woman’s overall emotional and physical health.

According to the research, when women cope with stress by gathering and talking with other women, our bodies produce higher levels of oxytocin – the “cuddle” hormone. Oxytocin helps us regulate the damaging effects of stress on our body. It’s also the hormone responsible for our feelings of intimacy and belonging.

During a difficult time, we may have the tendency to isolate from others and save our emotional energy for the problem at hand, but we know from scripture, and now science, this is not the healthiest approach (Proverbs 18:1). There’s wisdom in surrounding ourselves with other women, receiving their comfort and advice as we navigate our way through tough seasons.

So, if you’ve been holding back from relationships, don’t. Join a group. Find a mentor. Take time and intentionally begin building friendships with some amazing, godly women, and you’ll start experiencing the emotional and physical benefits of being part of a healthy community.