Next time you feel a stressful situation taking over, try thinking about your partner. A new study finds that just thinking about your S.O. could help lower your blood pressure just as well as being with them in real life. So if you don’t actually have that shoulder to lean on, just knowing you have your loved one’s support can help you manage stress better.
For the study, researchers divided participants who were currently involved in a romantic relationship into three groups: one that would spend time with their S.O., one that would think about their S.O., and one that would think about their day. Then each group dipped their foot into cold water for four minutes, to cause stress, and their blood pressure and heart rate were measured. And while the group who actually spent time with their mates in the flesh had a slight edge, those who just thought about them showed similar drops in blood pressure compared to the third group.
So what did the “thinking-only” about their partners group do to lower stress? They were told to close their eyes for 30 seconds and visualize a detailed image of their partner or them doing something as a couple, and to really make the mental picture as vivid as possible. So next time you’re faced with a stressful situation, give it a try it to calm yourself down.