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Mar 25, 2009

Making love not war might be the best antidote.

By FLYP Staff

According to recent surveys, three out of every four Americans say they’re feeling the strain of the country’s current economic woes. These days, it seems almost everyone knows someone who has been laid off or lost his or her home. And those who haven’t worry they could be next.
As the stress builds, so does the risk of other physical and psychological strain. According to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90 percent of all health problems are related to stress, which has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression and sleep disorders.
But it doesn’t stop there. Research shows that being constantly stressed out can have repercussions on behaviors as basic as the way we make decisions.
In a recent study, neuroscientists at the University of Washington trained rats to navigate a maze in a set time period. After the training, some of the rats were subjected to a series of unpredictable tail shocks for one hour. When these rats were put back in the maze, their performances were notably poorer than those of the rats that weren’t shocked. And over the ensuing days, as the shocks continued, their performances continued to diminish.
The study showed that a single exposure to stress impaired the decision-making abilities of rats for several days—a clear indication that a little bit of stress goes a long way.
Even more disconcerting, the performances of the stressed rats never matched those of rats that didn’t get shocked.
It’s these long-lasting impacts that have us, well, stressed. The question is, what’s the best way to handle the pressure? The old standards of exercise and plenty of sleep are proven stress-busters. But researchers have identified another cure: sex.
Arizona State University scientists have determined that physical affection or sexual behavior with a partner consistently resulted in lower levels of stress and better moods on the following day. They also found that being less stressed the next day led to more sex, thereby reinforcing the good mood.
This concept was confirmed by a Scottish researcher, whose work demonstrated that sex lowered stress levels in women. It would seems that being touched—the right way, of course—lowers hydrocortisone levels and heart rates.
So the next time that you’re feeling the pressure, go home and go to bed—and take someone you love. Chances are, you’ll feel a whole lot better in the morning.


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