Stress Less

Herbs, relaxation therapies, and “tend-and-befriend”coping can keep you mellow in a crazy world.

| September/October 2002

Seventy years ago, physiologist Walter Cannon, Ph.D., proposed that feeling threatened or anxious—what we now call “stressed”—triggers two reflexive reactions: attacking the threat or fleeing it. Cannon’s “fight-or-flight” concept has dominated scientific thinking about stress ever since. But the latest research shows that fight-or-flight describes men’s reactions to stress more than women’s. Most women react to stress differently, according to University of California at Los Angeles psychologist Shelley Taylor, Ph.D. Women are more likely to seek comfort in nurturance and companionship. Women “tend and befriend.”

In one noted study, stressed-out parents were observed as they returned home. The fathers often yelled at a family member (fight) or withdrew to spend time alone (flight). The mothers usually focused on their children (tend) or reached out to friends (befriend).

This gender difference makes evolutionary sense. As hunter-warriors, men would be most likely to reproduce if they knew when to fight and when to flee. But in a threatening world, how would a proto-human woman be most likely to pass on her genes? She might attack a predator or flee, but it would make more sense for her to hold her children close and congregate with other women, finding strength and protection in numbers.

Fight-or-flight versus tend-and-befriend also makes biochemical sense. When stressed, both sexes produce a hormone, oxytocin, which calms the body and promotes interpersonal bonding. But men’s testosterone counteracts oxytocin’s effect, priming men to fight or flee. Women’s estrogen amplifies oxytocin’s effect, making them more likely to tend and befriend.

Of course, at times men find comfort in friendship, and sometimes women fight or flee. However, the discovery of the tend-and-befriend coping style puts a decidedly different spin on traditional stress-management advice, a new perspective you can use to stay mellow in a crazy world.

Herbal teas: “Care to join me for a cup?”

A cup of chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea is calming whether you’re alone or with others. Yet in the context of tend-and-befriend stress management, why drink alone if you can brew a pot to share with friends? Several herbs have scientifically verified calming and anti-anxiety effects. Enjoy them with friends.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me