Recent research points to the power of partnership and friends for both stress relief and pain relief. In one study, women were randomly assigned to smell a T-shirt that either their partner had worn for 24 hours (no deodorant allowed), one a stranger had worn, or a neutral scent. (The things we do for science!) The women then took a stress-inducing mental test. Compared with the other two groups, the women who smelled their partner’s shirts felt less stressed both before and after the test and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Those who smelled the stranger’s shirt, however, had high cortisol levels throughout the test. In another study, women were subjected to mild pain while their partners held their hands, sat nearby without touching them, or sat in another room. Holding hands seemed to have a therapeutic effect, easing pain and synchronizing the couples’ heartbeats and breathing. These studies were small and involved only opposite-sex couples, so more research is needed. It’s never too soon to try out the power of loving touch.
Source: Olfactory cues from romantic partners and strangers influence women’s responses to stress.
” Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” Charles Dickens