Monday, January 1, 0001

Good old “me time” and girls nights out are chicken soup for the soul. Yet most women can count on their one hand the number of hours they get to spend with themselves or with their friends each week.

For the sake of their health and well-being women should make spending time with friends, and on their own, a priority in 2014.

“With the frenetic pace of our modern-day lifestyles, work stress, and the impositions that come with being part of a highly-connected society, women should prioritise setting time aside to kick-back on their own or with friends,” says Executive Head of 1st for Women Insurance, Robyn Farrell.

In a recent survey of UK women, it was found that the typical woman has just 1 hour and 14 minutes to herself every week. When it comes to down-time, 24% said they would rather spend it alone, and 38% love having free reign of the house. Sadly, nearly one in ten women said they never have the house to themselves.

Aside from having some “alone time”, most of the women surveyed placed great value on their friendships with other women. A third of the women in the poll said they can talk more easily about serious issues with their friends, and a quarter said their friends know 'the real me'.

This sense of being able to talk about problems and reveal their true selves to their friends is significant from a wellbeing perspective. Numerous studies suggest that women respond to stress differently than men, and that societal ties – such as close friendships – are good for their health because they help reduce the risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, stress, and cholesterol.

But, Farrell says women who have close friends don’t need researchers to convince them of the value of friendship.

“We all know how good it feels to offload our worries and discuss them with a good friend. It’s like free therapy. They are a source of strength during tough times, clarity during times of confusion, and just plain fun to be around. It’s a wonder why so many women put their friendships on the back-burner when they are busy or stressed. Instead, they should deliberately set time aside to bond with their mates,” she says.

Farrell concludes: “If taking time out and spending time with friends is good for health and a stress reliever, we should all make these a priority for a less stress-intense 2014.”

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