Recently, the subject of “tend-and-befriend” as a stress response came up in a discussion.

What is “tend-and-befriend?” It is different from "fight-or-flight" and it has everything to do with #TheResistance.

A thread. 1/
In their paper, Biobehavioral Responses to Stress in Females: Tend-and-Befriend, Not Flight-or-Flight, Taylor et al explain: The human stress response has typically been described as “fight-or-flight.” 2/
And while this is generally true, “A little-known fact about the fight-or-flight response is that the preponderance of research exploring its parameters has been conducted on males, especially male rats.” 3/
Based on their research, Taylor et all propose that behaviorally, females’ responses are typically marked more by a pattern of "tend-and-befriend."

So, what is this exactly? 4/
“Tending involves nurturant activities designed to protect the self and offspring that promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process.” 5/
Basically, this means that (in general), women developed a different stress response because they are often primary caregivers and thus, not in a position to fight or flee (for ex. when pregnant or caring for offspring). They evolved to respond to stress differently. 6/
(Note: This doesn’t mean that fight-or-flight is a male response and tend-or-befriend is a female response. While this is a general trend, it also depends on a number of other factors. Context is critical.) 7/
Here is a great (and really creative) example:
8/

Now that I know about it, I’m seeing it everywhere in #TheResistance. And that's probably not a coincidence given that tend-and-befriend is primarily a female response to stress and the Resistance is predominantly female. 9/
Indeed, the Resistance IS ‘tend-and-befriend’ in action.
10/
In reaction to Trump’s election, we gathered en masse all over the world. We circled the wagons; we banded together. We instinctively recognized that there is strength and safety in numbers. 11/
In the last year, groups have formed--both online and in real life. These activist groups, in addition to planning, coordinating, and promoting calls to action, also provide members with support and solidarity. 12/
This does not mean that the more well-known fight-or-flight response to stress is somehow wrong or invalid. Some will still react this way. 13/
It’s important to recognize that these are very normal reactions to stress. Not bad, just different. What IS important is to note which stress response is most effective in our current situation. 14/
How does this inform our behavior on social media? Online, the fight-or-flight response manifests as verbal aggression. I find it helps to consider what might be behind that stress response…fear, anxiety, hurt? And try to respond to that instead. 15/
Ultimately, we need to react in a way that will most effectively address the situation we are currently facing in our country, and support our fellow resisters when they are struggling. 16/
It’s important to recognize that we are all (at varying times and to varying degrees) stressed and scared and anxious. We are in uncharted territory here. 17/
It is a huge source of strength to have my Resistance family at my back. We need to continue being compassionate towards one another. Be there. Show support. Or rather, keep tending and befriending. 18/
Be well, my fellow #resisters. We’re in this together. 19/
h/t to @bmastersc for introducing this concept to me and @exoticgamora for sharing the paper on it.

Link to paper below if you are interested in reading more.

END

bit.ly/2Elq4zt
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