Stressed? Sniff Your Husband’s Shirt, Study Suggests

Who knew that your hubby’s clothing could come in handy the next time you’re in panic mode? According to new research, taking a big whiff of your husband’s T-shirt may be enough to help you calm down when you’re stressed. Yes, really.

A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that women who smelled their romantic partners’ shirts had reduced feelings of stress and lower measurable cortisol levels afterward. Researchers at the University of British Columbia randomly assigned 96 women to smell one of three scents: their partner’s shirt, a stranger’s shirt, or a neutral (clean) shirt. Right after smelling the shirt, the women were tasked with completing a mock job interview or math task (pretty stressful situations, if you ask us!). They also provided saliva samples to track their cortisol levels. As it turned out, perceived stress was noticeably reduced in women who smelled a shirt that had been “scented” by their partners.

“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 realize why they engage in these behaviors,” said Marlise Hofer, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology. “Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress.”

Fascinating stuff! Now that we think about it, we have found it strangely comforting to be near our significant others’ comfortable sweatshirts or favorite hats, especially when our loved ones themselves are not close by. This research suggests that our habits of cozying up to our spouse’s clothing isn’t so strange after all.

Interestingly enough, stress levels were elevated in women who smelled the shirt that was “scented” by a stranger. It just goes to show that love and trust with a specific person can go a long way in making us feel better — even better than the neatest pile of clean laundry!

h/t UBC News

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