Women’s Unique Stress Response: Key to Change

You have probably heard of the survival instinct labeled “Fight-or-Flight.” It’s a natural, biological response for humans and animals in the face of danger. What if I told you, however, that women also have another innate biological response to danger that is not so well known?

According to a study from the University of California, Los Angeles, led by Shelley E. Taylor and published in the Psychological Review, women respond much differently than men in high-stress situations (411). This uniquely feminine response may explain a lot of our daily dealings with our children and others, and it is what Mothering Humanity believes positions women as the perfect change-makers in an imperfect world.

Our natural response, as women, to stressful situations is not to put up our dukes or run away scared. Women are not initially concerned with self-preservation. This may not be a surprise to many of you. So what is our response? What does our biology tell us to do?

Taylor and her colleagues say, women “Tend-and-Befriend.” (Click the link to see the full scholarly article, courtesy of Harvard University’s online archives.)

At first glance, you might notice the word ‘and’ in our natural response versus the ‘or’ in fight-or-flight. As women, our response to stress is two-fold.

Not only does our mothering instinct kick in and we tend to those around us, but we seek to befriend in an effort to reduce risk.

Instead of battle, women look to peace. Instead of creating enemies and opposite sides, women seek alliances and nurture interconnectedness. Pointing to this distinct biological difference as part of the backbone of Mothering Humanity may seem divisive or counterintuitive (women vs. men)—the exact opposite of tend-and-befriend—but I whole-heartedly believe in you.

As the founder of Mothering Humanity, I believe women can bring out the best in all those around us and raise the next generation of peacemakers. This is an opportunity to embrace our biological difference and harness it to build a better tomorrow.

In addition to creating a beautiful and powerful web of women alliances, let us extend our tending and befriending tendencies to our partners, co-workers, community members, and online connections. Together, we can become the change!

In the true spirit of tending, I will continue to post helpful content here at Mothering Humanity, including more on this very important study, where I will break down both aspects of this theory and discuss how we can and are putting it to work in the world.

I hope that befriending all of you will be a natural result of our time spent together here and on Facebook, cultivating relationships and creating change within our own spheres of influence.

If you can’t wait to continue this discussion with Mothering Humanity and your curiosity is begging you to dive deeper into this topic right this instant, here are some helpful links:

Hello, From the Other Side… Of the World

Video Calls Keep “Framily” Connected.

The pandemic has a lot of us leaning heavily on video calling to connect to the outside. The ability to see our loved ones in real-time has been one of the best ways to decrease stress and increase communication in the midst of social distancing. This virtual connection with family and friends may be receiving renewed importance in your household, but video calling is a tool near and dear to all military families.

This wonderful means of communication has been bringing military members and their families together for almost two decades, helping them cope with distance and long deployments.

In my news article for the U.S. Navy in 2003, Sailors aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) were deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terror. For the first time in ship’s history, video teleconferencing was made available to select crewmembers with family in San Diego. With technology that we now take for granted, Sailors in the throes of war were able to see their children’s faces and blow a kiss to their spouses.

This pandemic may be creating a sort of inner battle against the blues, but I encourage each of you to reach out to your loved ones with the technology that you have available to you and connect as best you can.

Here’s a list of some of the free video calling Apps we enjoy here at home:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • FaceTime
  • Skype

My mother has an awesome quote on display in her house that reads: “Family ties are precious threads, no matter where we roam, they draw us close to those we love, and pull our hearts toward home.”

Even if you don’t have family you’re close to, reach out to friends. In the military community, there’s a popular word called “framily.” It’s a mash up of friends and family. Yes, blood is thicker than water, but water is a life-sustaining substance that every human being needs. Sometimes, friends can keep you going even better than family, especially when they can identify with the hardships you’re facing in the moment. Find your framily!

…And if you really do feel alone—if you don’t have any family or friends to connect with—remember that God is always listening.

One of his greatest disciples, Pope Francis, is offering daily Mass from Vatican City. You can watch it translated in English via Catholic TV. Today would have been Pope Saint John Paul II’s 100th Birthday, so it was a special celebration.

Let’s connect again next week, Framily. Until then, you can join Mothering Humanity on Facebook where we can continue the conversation.



“Video Call” Photo Courtesy of Matilda Wormwood at Pexels.com.

Happy Mother’s Day

I’m excited to be relaunching Mothering Humanity today of all days! A huge shout out to all the moms — new and seasoned — for doing the best they can each and every day of the year. You are the glue that keeps the world from cracking into a million little pieces. This photo will always hold a special place in my heart. Among other reasons, it marks the day I joined your ranks.

Check out the “In the Works” section for what’s coming and take a peek at my updated bio in “Author Cred” if you have time. If not, come back and visit soon. Above all, enjoy your day!



Sustainability at The Oscars & Suzy Amis Cameron

I stopped by Mind Body Green today and read an article about the upcoming Oscars that featured a related campaign called Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD). In an effort to promote ethical and sustainable formal wear and jewelry worn by event attendees, Suzy Amis Cameron founded RCGD in 2009.

“Now going into its ninth year, the positive fashion campaign sets the challenge for creatives, emerging and established designers worldwide to create a Red Carpet worthy dress, or tuxedo, from environmentally and socially responsible fabrics – thus fulfilling the Green Dress criteria,” the RCGD website stated.


Photo Courtesy of SuzyAmisCameron.com

Amis Cameron, a mother of five with an impressive laundry list of accomplishments, may look familiar. She’s acted in more than 25 films and is the wife of Academy Award winning director James Cameron. This environmentally conscious power couple has projects around the globe that promote “plant-based solutions to address climate change” and sustainable agribusiness.

The RCGD campaign, which doubles as a fundraiser for MUSE School in California (the first school in the country to be 100% plant based, which is also solar powered and zero waste), helps partner interested Oscar attendees up with participating designers, so that when the actors and actresses hit the red carpet at the Academy Awards they can bring attention to important environmental issues through their responsible fashion choices.

Amis Cameron is a shining example of a person who is acting as the change she wants to see in the world. Founding MUSE School in 2005 with her sister, Rebecca Amis, she was driven to build a better world for her children. “MUSE School’s mission is ‘To Inspire and Prepare Young People to Live Consciously with Themselves, One Another, and the Planet.’” At the top of her list of efforts is perhaps the Plant Power Task Force (PPTF). It certainly deserves mention here at Mothering Humanity for its global efforts. Most notably: “PPTF supported the first multi-country studies on global diets and climate change by the independent U.K.-based think tank, Chatham House: Livestock—Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector and Changing Climate, Changing Diets. PPTF also spearheaded the My Plate, My Planet initiative, representing over 200 leading environmental and health organizations, in support of the historic opportunity to link food and the environment in the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines.”

Here at Mothering Humanity, the belief is that the food that goes into our bodies is worth significant attention as it effects multiple aspects of life. MH doesn’t claim to have the answers, but it is interested in promoting those organizations that are searching for a sustainable solution that may be able to correct some of the scary health trends facing the world today. We applaud efforts like the ones mentioned.

Amis Cameron is a mother who is using her power and authority within her own sphere of influence and beyond to better our world. This Sunday, I will be tuned into the 90th Academy Awards, Red Carpet Event for a much different reason than years past. This year, I look forward to hearing all about the sustainable fashions that environmentally conscious attendees are showcasing.