LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- A new study suggested that thinking about your romantic partner may help keep your blood pressure under control when faced with a stressful situation.
According to the study by University of Arizona (UA) psychologists, published in the journal Psychophysiology, thinking of your significant other is as effectively as actually having him or her in the room with you.
In the study, 102 participants were asked to complete a stressful task -- submerging one foot into 3 inches of cold water ranging from 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Researchers measured participants' blood pressure, heart rate and heart rate variability before, during and after the task.
The participants, who were in committed romantic relationships, were randomly assigned to one of three conditions when completing the task. They either had their significant other sitting quietly in the room with them, or thought about their romantic partner as a source of support, or thought about their day during the task.
Those who had their partner physically present in the room or who thought about their partner had a lower blood pressure response to the stress of the cold water than the participants who were instructed to think about their day.
"The findings may help explain, in part, why high-quality romantic relationships are consistently associated with positive health outcomes in the scientific literature," said UA psychology doctoral student Kyle Bourassa, lead author of the study.
"Life is full of stress, and one critical way we can manage this stress is through our relationships -- either with our partner directly or by calling on a mental image of that person," Bourassa said.