Women need appreciation to thrive

Whenever I’m talking to women – in practice, my friends, or at my women’s networking group, I always want to give them a reason to smile. As women we need double the appreciation that men need. As in – it’s a physical requirement for brain health.

What happens in the real world? Women are mostly feeling unappreciated. I’ve not got a scientific study to back this up, but my gut tells me that if you’re a woman reading this, you’re nodding your head. If you’re a man, you might be rolling your eyes a little bit but I’m cool with that. Read on anyway.

Let me tell you why this matters to me – I’m a woman that loves supporting other women.

A woman’s role

So I’m not going to generalise here, but I’m going to share my experience of being a woman. First off, I’ve got a lot of ‘jobs’ to juggle and hats to wear. This may be familiar:

  • Mother (of two young boys – 5 & 2)
  • Wife (soldier who’s away more than he’s home)
  • Housekeeper (clothes washer, cleaner, cook, food shopper, buyer of all clothes/shoes/uniforms, financial planner, taxi driver)
  • Organiser (play date manager, party RSVPer and present finder, stay & play attendee, tombola rummager)
  • Business owner (start up stress head, marketer, bookkeeper, chiropractor, networker, social media manager, never switch off-er)

So when you’re juggling all, or some, or more of those jobs, it’s craziness. And just to add, you’ll be reading this and huffing at all the stuff I forgot to write. That’s ok though – I’m just making a point.

Your brain

Your brain has two hemispheres, or two sides. There’s the left brain and the right brain, which have different jobs and functions. They also each create different neurotransmitters. What’s this got to do with feeling appreciated? 

Your left brain

This side creates dopamine which is what gives you the buzz when you feel proud of yourself and your own accomplishments. It’s an internal sense of motivation.

So if I clean my house from top to bottom when the kids are at school, it’s blissful and lovely. I sit down with my perfect hot cup of tea in my favourite bone china cup and sip it in the gorgeous peace and quiet. It’s a little slice of heaven in amongst the manic chaos that is my life. I feel good and I feel like I’ve actually done something worthwhile. Most importantly, I can SEE the results of my effort in that moment – my reward.

That soon goes to pot when the kids come home, throw their coats and book bags by the door, and leave a trail of rice cake crumbs all over the carpet. The good thing is that I know I can repeat that behaviour tomorrow to get the same results. So that’s dopamine – the reward or motivation that comes from within your own head.

Your right brain

This is where serotonin lives, and unlike dopamine which you create from your own actions, serotonin comes from others. This is when your friend comes over with cake, sits down and says how lovely it looks in your living room. She’s validating all your hard work and giving you a little boost at the same time.

What’s interesting is that women have around half the serotonin levels as men, so we need double the stimulation. We need twice as much appreciation and I’m gonna put it out there – adoration. We physically REQUIRE the people around us to tell us we’re doing a great job.

Antidepressants & serotonin

When you look at antidepressants, you see that they’re formulated to work on the serotonin levels in our brain. Could it be, that out of the 1 in 6 people prescribed anti-depressants in 2017, some of those were women who could have increased their own serotonin levels simply by being around a better group of people?

There’s a reason that part of my consultation process with new clients asks about their sense of fulfilment in different areas of their life – it matters to their brain health! 

Your brain health affects your overall health, and your life affects your brain.

So the takeaway from this is simple – check out the people around you. Do they lift you up? And more importantly, do you lift them up? If the answer to either of these is no, then it’s time to rethink how you interact with the people around you – your health, and your children’s health depend on it.

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