Feeling Stressed? Kiss Your Partner

PDA may not be popular with everyone, but kissing has a surprising amount of health benefits, among which may be reducing stress and anxiety. If you’re feeling particularly stressed, depressed or anxious, relief could be a mere kiss away. Researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine conducted a study of more than 2,000 couples. The study found that those couples who kiss more infrequently are eight times more likely to experience stress and depression than those who kiss frequently and on the spur of the moment. Whether you choose to display your affection in public or if you’re more of a private person, studies have shown that kissing your partner can help to alleviate stress. So if you’re having a rough day, pucker up—it might just leave you feeling a lot better. 

The Hormone Connection

Falling in love is said to have the same effect on the brain as drug addiction. Part of the reason is that acts like kissing release feel-good hormones in the brain. A recent article in Discover Magazine states, “Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of desire and reward, spikes in response to novel experiences, which explains why a kiss with someone new can feel so special.” This rush of hormones is not relegated to new relationships, however. The mere act of kissing releases other hormones like oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone. 

Kissing and Cortisol

When we are stressed, our bodies release cortisol, which is one of the main drivers behind the body’s “fight or flight” response in reaction to stress. Studies have shown that kissing can reduce the body’s cortisol levels. NBC News published an article about the results of a scientific study on kissing and its effects on the body. According to an NBC News piece, the study found the following information: “Both men and women had a decline in cortisol after smooching, an indication their stress levels declined.” When the cortisol level in the body is reduced, the body is returned to its baseline status, which results in a reduction of feelings associated with stress. 

Bolstering Esteem

The benefits of kissing extend beyond the physiological response. It is also associated with higher feelings of self esteem, which can reduce depression and anxiety. In a 2006 article in the New York Times, author Joshua Foer explores kissing in great detail, including its origins and its role in human bonding. In the article, titled “The Kiss of Life,” he states, “A study conducted during the 1980’s found that men who kiss their wives before leaving for work live longer, get into fewer car accidents, and have a higher income than married men who don’t. So put down this newspaper and pucker up. It does a body good.”

Lowering Blood Pressure

Among its other health benefits, kissing regularly has also been shown to lower blood pressure. In her book, Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures, author Andrea Demirjian states, “When you’re smooching, your mouth is literally almost smiling. You’re breathing deeper. And your eyes are pretty much closed. All relaxing Zen movements. Kissing not only mellows your spirit, it lowers your blood pressure too.” This effect on your blood vessels is similar in nature to exercise, which is also shown to reduce stress when done on a regular basis. 

With all of its health benefits, it’s easy to see why kissing is the go-to form of PDA. Regularly kissing your partner can help bolster your self esteem, increase feel good hormones in your brain and increase your well-being. If you’re stressed, make sure to take the time to kiss your partner goodbye in the morning and hello in the evening. It could be the key to helping ease your stress.