This Simple Act Lowers Women’s Cortisol Levels

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Feeling stressed? If you are a woman, hugging your romantic partner may help dissolve those anxious emotions.

Women who embraced the love of their life prior to a stress-inducing event had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva compared with women who did not do so, according to a recent study out of Ruhr University Bochum, in Bochum, Germany.

Interestingly, the same effect was not present in men. The study authors note that past research has shown that “women perceive affective touch as significantly more pleasant compared to men.”

As part of the study, researchers asked 76 people in romantic relationships to keep one hand in an ice-water bath for three minutes. Half of the couples were asked to embrace before plunging a hand into the water; the others were not.

The women who embraced their partners had a reduced biological stress response. According to the study:

“These findings suggest that in women, short-term embraces prior to stressful social situations such as examinations or stressful interviews can reduce the cortisol response in that situation.”

Previous studies have found that many types of touch reduce stress levels in women. They include:

  • Massages
  • Embraces coupled with holding hands
  • Embraces coupled with communication that is deemed “affectionate”

The researchers note that further investigations are necessary to determine whether embraces from platonic friends have the same stress-reducing impact on women.

For more tips on reducing stress in your life, check out “10 Easy and Free Ways to Find Peace When You’re Stressed Out.”

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