If you’re prone to an afternoon energy slump, don’t reach for the biscuit tin – try thinking about your other half instead.
Psychologists have found pausing to think about our partner can give us a boost by increasing levels of sugar in our blood.
The researchers according to Daily Mail took samples from 183 participants before and after they thought about their current romantic partner and found a rise in both glucose and positive mood for a short period of time.
In contrast, when participants were asked to think about a friend or their morning routine, there was a slight decline in blood glucose levels and no link to positive mood.
Lead researcher Sarah Stanton, from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, said thinking about a romantic partner makes us ‘stressed’, but in a positive way.
This ‘good’, or euphoric, stress – known as eustress – is different to the ‘bad’ stress (distress) we feel when we are worrying about work deadlines.
‘Essentially, love gives you a “rush” both physically and psychologically,’ she said. ‘Our body gets “stressed out” – in a good way – when we think about our partner.
‘Thinking about our romantic partner increases the stress hormone cortisol – especially for women, who think a lot about their relationships in general – and cortisol can trigger the production and release of glucose in the body.
‘Additionally, it can trigger the release of adrenaline, which can also contribute to glucose release.’
Although high levels of cortisol in the body over a sustained period of time can cause health problems, short bursts are helpful to the body.
For the study, which was published in the scientific journal Psychophysiology, participants in romantic relationships were randomly assigned to groups and asked to reflect on their partner, an opposite-sex friend, or their morning routine.
They were aged between 18 and 41 and none had any medical conditions that were related to glucose, for example diabetes.
They were told not to eat or drink anything for three hours prior to taking part in the experiment to allow their blood glucose levels to stabilise and all were tested at the same time of day.
The researchers also controlled for other factors which could affect glucose levels, such as levels of sleep, use of the contraceptive pill, smoking and alcohol habits.
Each participant undertook a guided imagery exercise in which they relaxed by breathing deeply with their eyes closed before reflecting on a particular topic, depending on which group they had been assigned to.
The exercise took approximately six minutes.
In the routine-reflecting group, the participants began by picturing their room and visualising all the details about it.
They then thought about what they do after they wake up and how they go about their day.
In the friend-reflection condition, participants pictured the face of an opposite-sex friend and were told to visualise all the details about him or her.
They then thought about their relationship with their friend, for example when they first met them and the things they enjoy doing with them.
In the partner-reflection condition, participants pictured the face of their current romantic partner and were told to visualise all the details about him or her.
They then thought about their relationship with their partner, for example when they first realised they were in love with their partner and how they felt when they were with them.
Blood glucose levels were assessed prior to the visualisation task as well as at 10 and 25 minutes after.
Source: Daily Mail