Science Agrees: Yes, You Need More Girl Time

Published in: Beauty Tips, Just For Fun

Connecting with girlfriends for afternoon tea yesterday left me feeling great, probably the happiest and most relaxed I’ve felt in a long time. I’ve been busy with work lately, and it felt nice just spending time with a big bunch of girls. After tea, as I drove home across the Golden Gate Bridge, I thought about friendship and the power it has to make us feel better.

An outside view of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in San Francisco
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This is one of those painfully obvious things, but research shows that socializing with friends may help you live longer. Maybe that’s why I love blogging so much. =)

A landmark UCLA study suggested that spending time with friends helped counteract the effects of stress on the body. Study after study confirms that having a social network reduces one’s risk of disease by lowering heart rate, cholesterol and blood pressure.

The UCLA study suggested that when the hormone oxytocin is released (the same hormone released during hugging, touching and orgasm) as part of the stress response in women, it has a different effect on women than it does on men; in women (but not in men), oxytocin is believed to have a calming effect. It’s also believed to trigger a desire to tend to others (like children) and to gather with other women. And, when a woman engages in “tending and befriending,” studies suggest that even more oxytocin gets released, further countering the effects of stress on the body.

I don’t know if it was the oxytocin talkin’, but I definitely felt less stressed after tea at the Ritz. Most of Ritz-Carlton’s hotels worldwide offer an afternoon tea service. Tony Roumph, Lounge Manager of the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, suggested directly checking with a hotel beforehand because at some properties tea service is by reservation only.

At the Ritz in Frisco, afternoon tea is served between 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Fridays and between 1-4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It was served in the hotel’s Lobby Lounge, an elegant room with city views, crystal chandeliers, fine china and live music (a harpist, yo!). Most hotels will choose one of their more elegant rooms for afternoon tea. Dress was sophisticated casual (aka not your scrubby jeans and Adidas Shell Toe sneakers). I wore a black knit dress with boots, and a few of the other girls wore dark jeans with cute sweaters.

My friends and I made reservations a few weeks ago, giving the hotel our menu selection at the time. We had six ladies in our party, but Tony says they can accommodate groups of up to 30 people. It’s also not uncommon at all for people to attend tea service by themselves, so if you’re not a fan of big groups or just want to fly solo, that’s cool too.

Planning an Event…

If you’re in charge of planning afternoon tea (or any other event) with the girls, spreadsheets and e-mail can help.

Start by hammering out the bigger details first, like the size of the group, schedule and budget, and work from there down to the smaller details, like (for afternoon tea) the menu.

If I’m in charge of planning something for a group, the first thing I’ll do is send out a mass e-mail to see who can attend. In it, I’ll ask members of the group to choose from a few dates. Not everyone takes e-mail seriously, so one thing that can help move things along are the words “Reply Requested” in the subject line. After each person provides their preferred dates, I note them on my trusty chart, circling the date on which the largest number of people can attend. Here’s an example chart I made in Microsoft Excel (hand-drawn charts work, too):

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I love spreadsheets for planning. After pinpointing a date, I’ll use a similar process to pinpoint a time. Spreadsheets are also a handy way to track a large number of different menu (or drink) choices. LOL, can you tell I’m a freak for details?

Afternoon Tea…

Entrance to the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco…

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After we took our seats, they brought out the champagne! We did some catching up while a harpist interpreted classic Beatles tunes.

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We chose what the SF Ritz-Carlton refers to as the Royal Tea Service, one of five tiers of service ranging from $36-$49 per person. After we finished our champagne cocktails, Neizel, our wonderful server, brought out two trays of food and explained the different types of sandwiches, pastries and sweets.

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My favorites were the cucumber, roquefort and walnut on white bread and the egg and chive sandwiches, yum! I also really liked the scone, which I smothered in Devonshire cream.

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Neizel then poured the tea and kept it flowing throughout the party. We choose from among four different varieties: vanilla bean-black tea, chocolate, peppermint and darjeeling.

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After the sandwiches and pastries it was time for dessert, in this case fresh strawberries and vanilla cream.

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While afternoon tea was fun, I realize that it was the socializing part that really made the day.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

22 Comments

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  1. Diana says:

    aww Karen – you and I could quite possibly be the most OCD people for planning :) If I’m in charge of an event, lists and spreadsheets become my life! Looks like it was a lovely time, and that chocolate tea sounds yummy!

  2. Cadha says:

    Sounds like a fun time; I love having afternoon tea and darjeeling is one of my favorites! I also wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog.

    I’m justk recently getting into make up (and lordy, is it fast becoming a dangerously expensive obsession) and your explanations on how you create looks, along with the pictures are so helpful. Thank you!!

  3. Glosslizard says:

    Mmmmmm, it all sounds so lovely!

    I am definitely in favor of more girl-time for all! I got to meet up with several girlfriends over the course of this last week, and I have just been walking around happy ever since!

  4. Courtney says:

    I’m OCD when it comes to planning too! I was laughing over this post because the spreadsheet is totally something I would do! :-) I’ve always wanted to check out the tea service at the Ritz–and now after seeing your pics I definitely want to plan a girls afternoon there.

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Diana,

    LOL, now don’t you just love Excel? In addition to electronic files, I usually have a binder with a ton of tabs to keep everything straight for big projects. OCD planners 4-life!

    The chocolate tea was very tasty, yum!

  6. Karen says:

    Hi Cadha,

    Thanks, my dear! I am already craving another cup of darjeeling tea as I type this reply, LOL :)

    I’m so glad that you find the blog helpful! Let me know if there are any looks you’d like to see or questions you have. If I don’t know the answer off the top of my head I’ll find ya one. Have a great week!

  7. Karen says:

    Hi Glosslizard,

    Did you end up braving this crazy weather to go to movies? I hope you had a fun Sunday!

  8. Karen says:

    Heya Courtney,

    I dunno what I’d do if I couldn’t have my charts, oy! It never hurts to over-prepare is what I like to say. ;)

  9. Dao says:

    thanks for sharing the planning tips. I’m not such a big planner but this is definitely going to help me in the future. Tea party, I guest me and my girls should do it one time. It’s just hard to group us together because we all live so far apart now.

  10. Glosslizard says:

    Hi Karen!

    We didn’t go to the movies, opting instead for a lazy, stay-at-home Sunday! I, however, did leave the boys at home for a while to scamper over to 4th Street where I picked up Layin’ Low and then wandered around for a nice between-rainshowers walk! I also discovered that the Crate & Barrel outlet has a ton of pretty glasses and votive candle holders that make really fab brush holders! I got three different kinds for a total of $5! So all in all, I came away very pleased!

  11. Megan says:

    100% agreed…girl time an socializing can be so much fun and so relaxing. I like the tea too…I think going out for things like that is great because if we stay in then everybody has to get in volved cooking etc. On occasion I have been known to have a dinner party and cook for my friends. Less stress is the way to go though.

  12. Amanda says:

    love that you are a “planner”-I, too, have this gene. I’ve already started my “pack list for Hawaii” excel spreadsheet, with clothes, shoes, jewelry, and makeup lists….and this trip is not until DECEMBER, LOL.

    This post does make me miss my good g/f a little more….due to the circumstances of life/growing up/etc most are all living in seperate, far flung states now. :-( The “newer” ones I have made here aren’t into the “girly” stuff I am.

  13. Karen says:

    Hi Dao,

    You are welcome! I have a ton of planning tips, and can plan meetings/events like a mofo, so let me know if you ever need any additional tips and tricks.

    My school friends and I got really close our last year of college, and we all lived 10 minutes away from each other then, then we all went our separate ways. A few of the girls went to the east coast for school/work, but this is the first time we’ve all lived in the Bay Area since then! It’s very exciting to have them so close but at the same time it’s hard, because we all have our jobs/s.o.’s/hobbies etc. so we don’t get to see each other that often.

    Anyway, at least there’s e-mail right? There’s nothing like a group message to say “what’s up” to see what everyone is up to. :)

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Glosslizard,

    Ah yes, brush organization in lovely holders is so key to the soul! My brush sitch is a little out of control. I needed to get some makeup storage solutions, like um, yesterday!

    Nice Vice ROCKS! I am so rocking that with my Lancome palette, whee!

  15. Karen says:

    Hi Megan!

    Yeah, I know. And then there’s clean up, and that can be a pain if there’s no dishwasher. Seriously, I want to go to one of your parties someday so I can witness your Betty Crocker-ness in action! :)

  16. Karen says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Oh girl, you are a planner through and through if you’re starting now! I usually go to Hawaii in December to visit El Hub’s family! You’ll crack up when you see the locals wearing fleece pullovers, sweaters and turtlenecks…

  17. Megan says:

    Yeah to me baking and cooking is kinda like chemistry I guess. I like to experiment :-) The holidays get crazy though… I mean this year I think I baked like 20 dozen chocolate chip and chocolate chip w/ pecan cookies. Plus I made homemade chocolate covered pretzels and 4 dozen brownies. It can get hectic. :-) It definitely requires lists and organization. :-)

  18. Rowena says:

    Ahhhhhhhhh what a cool friend you are :) Did you have cucumber sandwiches (or is that a British thing?) It all look very yummy!

  19. Karen says:

    Hi Megan,

    Seriously, YUM! I am a sucker for a good chocolate chip cookie! We have a store here in SF called “Specialty’s” (yes, that’s spelled correctly) that makes the best semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies. If you ever make it out my way I will have to take you so you can get your cookie on. SO GOOD!

    I feel the same way about baking…totally reminds me of chem lab. You are such a food diva! I bow!

  20. Karen says:

    Hey Rowena,

    We did! I loved ‘em, too! I just kinda wish I had a whole plate full of ‘em, not just one tiny one to snack on, ha ha ha!

  21. Megan says:

    LOL…so I my cookies are just basic homemade cookies…nothing extraordinary…no secret ingredient…but not particularly healthy (butter, sugar, brown sugar, flour, eggs etc.). Maybe next time I make them I can send you some. I sometimes mail them to a friend of mine from school…who regularly offers to pay me to make them for him and send them to him.

    Somedays I wish I had become a baker :-)

  22. Karen says:

    Awww, that’s so sweet, Megan. They must be good if your friend is willing to drop some cash for them!

    Being a baker is not that far from being in a lab! Or so I’d like to think… ;)

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