‘Tend and Befriend’ – November 10 @ 10am PT / 19h CET






This gathering is open to all and free to join! Read Kate O’Shea’s inspiration for the gathering below.

Recently in a Rosen discussion group, my colleague Alok Srivastava, introduced me to the theory “Tend and Befriend”.   Shelley Taylor, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, developed the theory of Tend-and-befriend as an additional path to the classic fight, flight, freeze responses to stress. Tend-and-befriend is available in us all but tends to be a more feminine reaction to stress.  Until the late 1990s, much of the studies on stress were conducted with male subjects as their hormones do not cycle as widely as females.  On further study of mammalian females, it was observed that their reaction to chaos and stress is to tend to the children, make sure they are safe and connect with other females for support.  Stress activation increases oxytocin in both males and females but in females oxytocin is enhanced by estrogen while in males,  testosterone tends to diminish oxytocin levels. The male response will be more towards the fight and flight or freeze.

I immediately recognized the “tend-and-befriend” response as my usual go-to tool with stress.  My response will also involve cooking for others, a tendency to organize my household, talk with my sisters, check in on my sons and walk with my neighbors. 

I also thought of my Rosen Movement class, where I could now notice that connection; moving together and checking in with each other were tending and befriending activities. I brought this notion to my class to see if they recognized this tend and befriend response in themselves.  They did! 

More recently in our Rosen Movement class we suggested each of us reach out to someone in our class who has not been able to come during Covid times.  To either call or write to them.  We would do this to connect and reduce each other’s stress.

I wonder as a Rosen Community, how can we continue to ‘Tend and Befriend’ each other, reach out, connect and help each other through all that wants to disconnect us?

Kate O’Shea

Rosen Institute Board Secretary