Smelling a loved one’s shirt could lower stress levels, scientists have revealed.
The amount of the stress hormone cortisol in your body decreases after sniffing your partner’s clothes, they claimed.
Recognising the smell of a partner is all that’s needed to feel more relaxed, while smelling a stranger’s clothes could increase stress, the scientists found.
The University of British Columbia scientists suggested taking an item of your partner’s clothing with you when travelling far, to help reduce stress when it’s needed.
“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 realise why they engage in these behaviours,” said the study’s lead author, Marlise Hofer.
“Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress.”
Senior author, Frances Chen, added: “With globalisation, people are increasingly traveling for work and moving to new cities.
“Our research suggests that something as simple as taking an article of clothing that was worn by your loved one could help lower stress levels when you’re far from home.”
The researchers recruited 96 male/female couples as part of the study.
The men were asked to wear a t-shirt for 24 hours, without any deodorant or scented body products. They were also asked to not smoke, and to eat certain foods that wouldn’t affect their body scent.
The t-shirts were then frozen to preserve the smell.
All of the women were given two t-shirts to smell – their own partner’s t-shirt and a stranger’s. They’re cortisol levels were recorded by the researchers.
Smelling their own partners t-shirt significantly reduced their cortisol levels, and subsequently their stress.
But, sniffing a strangers shirt increased the amount of cortisol in their body.
“From a young age, humans fear strangers, especially strange males, so it is possible that a strange male scent triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to elevated cortisol,” said Hofer.
“This could happen without us being fully aware of it.”
Other ways to tackle stress include breathing exercises, and making more time for yourself, according to the NHS.
If self-help techniques aren’t working, you should see a GP about stress.