Holding hands with lover ‘reduces pain’

Next time you feel a headache coming on, grab your boyfriend’s hand and squeeze. Because according to new research, holding hands with a loved one has an anaesthetising effect on pain

Next time you feel a headache coming on, grab your boyfriend’s hand. Because according to new research, holding hands with a loved one has an anaesthetizing effect on pain.

Psychologists at the University of California, Los Angeles tested 25 volunteers from UCLA, who had been in a good relationship with their boyfriends for at least six months.

They found that holding hands with their boyfriends, or even just looking at a photograph of him, dulled the women’s reactions to physical pain. The effect was not matched if they held a stranger’s hand or squeezed a stress ball.

Scientists said this study, published in the journal Psychological Science, ‘underscores the importance of social relationships and staying socially connected’.

The findings may have uses for childbirth, where the father’s presence in the delivery room could reduce the mother’s pain.  They may also explain why a mother can apparently give instant comfort to a poorly child by ‘kissing it better’.

The researchers gave advice to anyone suffering pain or stress: ‘If you cannot bring a loved one with you, a photo may do instead.’


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