HEALTH | January 6, 2018
Are you are feeling physically and emotionally drained out? Try taking a whiff of your romantic partner’s shirt — for it can help lower stress levels, suggests a study. The findings showed that women feel calmer when they sniff their male partner’s scent.
“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 realise why they engage in this behaviour,” said lead author Marlise Hofer, graduate student at the University of British Columbia, in Canada.
“Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress,” Hofer added.
Conversely, being exposed to a stranger’s scent had the opposite effect and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, possibly because of evolutionary factors.
“From a young age, humans fear strangers, especially strange males, so it is possible that a strange male scent triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to elevated cortisol. This could happen without us being fully aware of it,” she said.
The study could have practical implications to help people cope with stressful situations when they’re away from loved ones, the researchers said.
For the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the team recruited 96 heterosexual couples. Men were given a clean T-shirt to wear for 24 hours, and were told to refrain from using deodorant, that could affect their scent.
The women were then randomly assigned to smell a T-shirt that was either unworn, or had been worn by their partner or a stranger.
Women who smelled their partner’s shirt felt less stressed, those who both smelled their partner’s shirt and also correctly identified the scent had lower levels of cortisol, while women who smelled a stranger’s scent showed higher cortisol levels.
Featured image: The Spruce