New York: The best remedy to beat stress out is to simple hand-holding, claims health magazine WebMD.
According to a new study in the US, holding hands with your spouse can help you reduce stress. Psychology experts from the University of Virginia conducted the study of 16 happily married couples who were in their early 30s. The couples were told that the study was about holding hands—and that mild electric shocks would be involved.
The wives wore electrodes on their ankles and watched screens that warned them when a shock was coming or assured them that they weren't due for a shock.
Meanwhile, the researchers scanned the wives' brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
As predicted, when the wives knew they were due for a shock, their brain scans showed activity in brain areas that handle threats.
But when the wives held their husbands' hands during the same threat, their brain scans looked calmer than when they weren't holding hands.
First, the husbands and wives rated the quality of their marriages on a scale of 0 to 151. Scores lower than 100 were considered distressed marriages.
Among couples chosen for the study, the husbands' average score was 126 and the wives' 127. The researchers led by James Coan found that the wives in the best marriages appeared to have the calmest brains—while holding their husbands' hands under threat.
Holding the stranger's hand was better than holding no hand at all but holding their husband's hand was best, the researchers found.
The findings may not apply to couples in less happy relationships, Coan's team notes.