Can the mere thought of your loved one reduce your pain? Yes, according to a new study by UCLA psychologists that highlights the importance of social relationships and staying socially connected.The study subjects, all women, received moderately painful heat to their forearms while they viewed photographs of their partners, a stranger and a chair. When they were looking at pictures of their partners, they reported less pain.
The researchers say this changes their notion of how social support influences people. The current wisdom is that support must be very responsive to our emotional needs in order to make us feel good. Here, however, a mere photo of a significant other had the same effect.
They say this study shows how much of an impact our social connections can have on our experience.
One practical piece of advice: the next time you are going through a stressful or painful experience, if you can’t bring a loved one with you, a photo may do.