Reduce Stress The Scientific Way

Do you talk to your mother often ? No? then you may be putting yourself through too much stress.

It’s not me, its science. more specifically science from University of Wisconsin. Anthropologist Leslie Seltzer from U of W has been doing research on people’s behavior – which is a bit obvious since that is what anthropologists do. Her focus is more on the different ways people interact with each other and how each method affects their physical and mental well being. Her recent study, to be published in Evolution and Human Behavior, shows evidence that talking to one’s mother results in increased well being.

Actually, lesser stress is what they measured, but less stress equals more happiness is the conclusion we are deriving here. For her study, she made a number of students perform tasks that put them in a stressed state and then had some of them had a phone conversation with their mothers and some had face to face interaction, while few others communicated with the female half of their parent duo using instant messaging and the remaining participants did not interact with their mothers at all. Through out the experiment, the participants were measured for levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and oxytocin (happiness hormone) levels. The readings showed that the stress levels decreased and happiness levels increased for those participants who interacted with their mothers either face to face or via phone, while the stress levels remained high for those participants who engaged on IM chat or did not engage in the conversation at all.

That last part is significant, since it shows that volunteers who did IM chat with their mothers had the same effect as those who did not share with their mothers at all. The study draws the conclusion that one’s mother’s voice has a soothing effect on one’s mental state and when done regularly may have long-term health benefits.

Certain caveats do exist with this research. For instance, all the participants in the experiment were women and therefore its validity for men is questionable, especially given our affinity for reacting to stress by punching people near by or crying or both. Also, this does not say how participants would react if they talked to their father after the stress test instead of their mother. I am going to make a general assumption here, that such an experiment will actually make the participants even more stressed. These doubts aside, evidently, talking to your mother may be your best bet, and probably the cheapest, for lower stress, higher happiness and general well-being.

Now, I know what you are about to ask me.  How can we make our mother’s voice into a pill that can be taken at regular schedule, preferably with long breaks between dosages and with zero needles ? Well, I am yet to find a study that answers this question but don’t worry. I am googling them as you read this.

Until then, you are better off actually talking to your mom regularly.

Warning: Talk to your doctor before calling your mother as there may be unintended consequences. Possible side effects of conversing with your mother may cause boredom, increased sensitivity to useless advise and sudden increase in “I’m busy, I have to go” syndrome. In rare cases, talking to your mother can also cause affection, kindness and a vague sense of being content and happy. If these symptoms persist for more than 4 hours contact your physician immediately.


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