Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This is a time of love and romance. Everywhere you look, you see the color red, hearts, chocolate, flowers, and all sorts of stuffed animals to spark the romance. Although performing romantic gestures for the ones we love can make us feel good, new research suggests simply thinking of our loved one is enough to help lower our blood pressure.
The study suggests that when faced with a stressful situation, start to think of the one that you love and you will experience a drop in blood pressure similar to if the person was in the room with you.
To achieve their findings, the research team had 102 participants to complete a stressful situation while their blood pressure, heart rate, and heart variability was taken before the task, during, and after.
All participants were in romantic relationships and were randomly placed in one of three situations: Their loved one was in the room, they had to think about their partner, or they had to think about their day.
Those who had their partner present or were able to think of their partner saw greater control in blood pressure while performing the stressful task compared to those who had to think about their day. Heart rate and heart variability didn’t differ greatly.
The study sheds light as to why those in relationships tend to have improved health outcomes. Co-author of the study Kyle Bourassa explained, “This suggests that one way being in a romantic relationship might support people’s health is through allowing people to better cope with stress and lower levels of cardiovascular reactivity to stress across the day. And it appears that thinking of your partner as a source of support can be just as powerful as actually having them present.”
“Life is full of stress, and one critical way we can manage this stress is through our relationships—either with our partner directly or by calling on a mental image of that person. There are many situations, including at work, with school exams, or even during medical procedures, where we would benefit from limiting our degree of blood pressure reactivity, and these findings suggest that a relational approach to doing so can be quite powerful,” concluded Bourassa.
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