A New Anti-Stress Therapy Has Been Discovered – and It Involves Smelling Your Lover’s Shirt
If you’re in a relationship and have even smelled your partner’s shirt in their absence, worn it or slept with it next to your pillow, you’re not crazy. Scientists are now saying that your lover’s scent can act as an effective therapy to reduce stress – whereas the scent of a stranger can have a completely opposite effect and can make you more anxious.
Stress-relieving benefits of being in a relationship
There is something very comforting about being in a happy relationship; whenever you’re stressed or unhappy, your partner is somebody you can talk to about your worries and they do whatever they can to calm you down, whether it’s through a kiss, a hug or a few words of encouragement.
But what about when they’re not next to you to provide comfort during a stressful time? Studies have already shown the benefits of being in a romantic relationship on your psychological and emotional well-being and now, even the absence of your loved one can have certain stress-relieving benefits. Scientists say that the scent of lover’s shirt alone is enough to reduce stress levels and help you calm down.
A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia used data from 96 couples in order to determine the effect of a lover’s scent in reducing stress levels in their partners. In the experiment, men were asked to put on a clean shirt and wear it for 24 hours without the use of any perfume, deodorant or other scented products.
Smoking and eating certain foods associated with strong smell were also prohibited during the experiment to prevent the participants’ natural body odor from being minimized by other scents. The author of the study explained that men were asked to provided clothing articles for the experiment since women tend to have a better sense of smell and can easily recognize their partner’s scent – even in their absence.
Women who recognized the scent were less stressed
The shirts worn by male participants were frozen after the initial 24 hours were over in order to preserve the smell. The female participants were then presented with three different shirts: one worn by their partner, another worn by a stranger, and an unworn shirt. The women were then subjected to a stress trigger such as a mock examination or a job interview and the levels of stress hormone (cortisol) were measured immediately afterwards by examining their saliva samples. Researchers also asked participants questions to monitor their stress levels before and after the experiment.
After being exposed to a stressful situation, the participants were asked to smell the shirt samples provided to them. As a result, women who smelled their partner’s shirt experienced a decrease in their stress levels in comparison to others who were given an unworn or a stranger’s shirt. Moreover, women who were able to recognize their partner’s scent were able to decrease their stress level more than those who did not know that they were smelling their lover’s shirt. Researchers explain that knowing what you’re smelling can have a greater impact on your stress level.
Sniffing a stranger’s scent can increase stress
While smelling your partner’s shirt can be a great anti-stress therapy, a stranger’s scent does not have the same soothing effect. On the contrary, sniffing an unrecognizable scent can actually increase the cortisol levels in your body, making you even more stressed than before. Researchers explain this phenomenon as a natural instinct of fear induced in women after smelling a scent of strange male which induces an involuntary fight-or-flight response in them.
Scientists are now curious to see how the scent of a lover affects the stress level in males and if they react the same way as their female counterparts. But men seem to be less emotionally attached to their female lovers’ scent and don’t normally wear their shirts in their absence. However, it is more likely for a man to keep his partner’s clothing items next to their pillow or smell them while she is away.
Scientists believe that this method of reducing stress could also work with a parent-child relationship and could reduce stress for a mother and help her sleep at night while her kid is away.
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