Mental Health News: A new study on marriage and stress revealed that the presence of a spouse provides immediate stress protection and helps people live longer.
Researchers at Brigham Young University hired 40 participating couples and asked them to complete an intentionally challenging task on a computer. Some couples were allowed to sit near their task and hold their hand, while some couples were randomly assigned to work alone.
During this experiment, the research team used an infrared camera that measured pupil width. Human eye can signal that a person is experiencing stress. Our pupils respond within 200 milliseconds to the onset of a stressor. The researchers used cameras to get a close-up view of a human eye. They noted changes related to the body’s physiological stress response and if having spouse support can change the response to stress.
Participants in both groups were initially stressed. The researchers measured the health benefits from social connection in real-time and observed that the spouse support group calmed down significantly sooner, allowing them to work on the task at reduced stress levels.
“When we have a spouse next to us and with us, it really helps us navigate and get through the stress we have to deal with in life,” said psychology professor Wendy Birmingham.
In short, being in a relationship protects you from stress and has benefits that can be seen in your eyes.
To Know More, You May Refer To:
Tyler C. Graff, Steven G. Luke, Wendy C. Birmingham. Supportive hand-holding attenuates pupillary responses to stress in adult couples. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (2): e0212703 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212703