Stressed? Try Sniffing Your Partner's T- Shirt

From Drugs.com - January 9, 2018

Stressed? Try Sniffing Your Partner's T- Shirt

TUESDAY, Jan. 9, 2018 -- Need to travel for work? Have an important job interview coming up? Consider tucking a shirt from your partner into your bag.

Sniffing it just might help you relax.

It seems that the scent of a romantic partner can help ease stress, particularly when couples are temporarily separated or away from home, according to new research.

"Many people wear their partner's shirt or sleep on their partner's side of the bed when their partner is away, but may not realize why they engage in these behaviors," study author Marlise Hofer said in a news release from the University of British Columbia. "Our findings suggest that a partner's scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress."

Hofer, who's a graduate student in psychology, and her fellow researchers asked 96 heterosexual couples to test the effectiveness of people's scent in helping reduce stress in their partner.

Men in the study wore a clean T-shirt for 24 hours. During this time, they did not use deodorant or any scented body products. They also were told to not smoke and not eat foods that could overpower or affect their natural scent.

Then, women in the study were randomly assigned to blindly smell a shirt that had either been worn by their partner, worn by a stranger or not worn at all.

While they did the smell test, the women were given a stress test -- either a fake job interview or a mental math test. They also answered questions about their stress level, and the researchers collected saliva samples to measure their levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Smelling a romantic partner's shirt, it turned out, made the women feel calmer, the study found. They felt less stressed both before and after the mock interview and the math task.

Those who smelled their partner's shirt and recognized his familiar scent also had lower cortisol levels. That suggests that the stress-busting benefits of a partner's scent are strongest when you are aware that that's what you are smelling, according to the researchers.


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