A simple hug or just holding the hand of your loved ones can reduce their pain during the times of distress, a new study has found.
The University of California study found that hugging and touching are associated with many health giving properties that help reduce stress and pain.
At least for women, the touch or sight of a partner seems to anaesthetise them. Even a photograph of their loved one is enough to have an effect, according to the study.
For their research, the scientists recruited 25 girl students who had been in a good relationship with their boyfriends for at least six months.
Tests revealed that if the young women were given a mild burn, they felt less discomfort by looking at photos of their boyfriends, the Telegraph reported.
A similar anaesthetising effect was found if they held hands with their partners when “moderately painful heat stimuli” was applied to their forearms.
In further experiments, each woman held either the hand of her boyfriend, the hand of a male stranger or asked to squeeze a ball.
The “thermal stimulus” last for just a tenth of second to produce a “sharp prickling sensation”.
The volunteers who held their boyfriends’ hands “reported less physical pain than when they were holding a stranger’s hand or a ball while receiving the same amount of heat stimulation”.
The findings might also explain why a mother can apparently give instant comfort to a poorly child by “kissing it better”.
Similarly other students have shown there is a correlation between stroking your pet can reduce distress.
A past study has shown that patients recovering from joint-replacement surgery needed 50 per cent less pain relief if they used pet therapy.
Another study by educational Psychologist Dr Ludwig Lowenstein has found that the secret to a happy marriage could be four hugs a day.
His team asked couples who described themselves as “happy” or “very happy” to estimate how much time they spend together in an effort to work out the secret of their success.
Analysis of their responses suggested that couples looking for happiness should aim to spend at least seven evenings in together every month with two proper dinner dates.
Other important elements included two romantic walks a month and at least one visit to a pub or cinema without the children or other friends.