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A Strong Social Network Helps Reduce Marital Conflicts and Stress

Social networks may help provide protection against health problems brought about by ordinary tension between spouses

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Marital conflict
Marital conflict between a couple. Pixabay
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New York, Sep 17, 2017: Marital conflicts can take a toll on your health, but having even a few close friends and family members to turn to can help reduce the stress associated with such conflicts, new research suggests.

Social networks may help provide protection against health problems brought about by ordinary tension between spouses, said the study published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“We found that having a satisfying social network buffers spouses from the harmful physiological effects of everyday marital conflicts,” said Lisa Neff, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the US.

“Maintaining a few good friends is important to weathering the storms of your marriage,” Neff said.

The research looked at 105 newlywed couples who kept daily records of marital conflict in their home environment and completed questionnaires about the number, quality and characteristics of their connections with friends and family.

In addition, the couples participating in the study collected morning and evening saliva samples for cortisol testing every day for six days.

Cortisol levels over the course of the day are a measure of the stress response.

The overall number of friends and family members that study participants reported having did not appear to affect couples’ ability to handle conflicts nearly as much as the quality of those outside relationships.

Also Read: Married Trans Couples Experience Less Discrimination: Study 

The researchers found that people who reported having even a few close friends or family members to talk to outside of their marriage experienced lower levels of stress when marital conflicts arose.

“Even everyday conflict takes a toll on people physiologically,” Neff said.

“But we found that the association between marital conflict and cortisol responses completely disappears when people are happy and satisfied with their available social network,” Neff added. (IANS)

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Human Body May Not Cope With Evening Stress, Study Reveals

The team first measured the diurnal rhythm of salivary cortisol levels from the volunteers and then exposed one group to stress test in the morning, and another to the evening

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Your body may not cope with evening stress: Study. Pixabay

Human bodies which experience stress in the evening release less cortisol — the primary stress hormone in humans — compared to stressful events in the morning, and thus may pose vulnerabilities, according to a new research.

The study, led by medical physiologist Yujiro Yamanaka at Japan’s Hokkaido University, the body’s central system reacts less strongly to acute psychological stress in the evening than it does in the morning, suggesting possible vulnerability to stressful events in the evening.

“Our study suggests a possible vulnerability to stress in the evening. However, it is important to take into account each individual’s unique biological clock and the time of day when assessing the response to stressors and preventing them,” Yamanaka commented.

The study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology Reports, explored a small group of young and healthy volunteers with normal work hours and sleep habits to find out if the “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal” (HPA) axis responds differently to acute psychological stress according to the time of day.

The HPA axis connects the central nervous and endocrine systems of the body. Cortisol is released for several hours when the HPA axis is activated by a stressful event.

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Representational image. Pixabay

This helps provide the body with energy in the face of a perceived need for fight or flight. Cortisol levels are also regulated by a master circadian clock in the brain and are normally high in the morning and low in the evening.

The team first measured the diurnal rhythm of salivary cortisol levels from the volunteers and then exposed one group to stress test in the morning, and another to the evening.

Also Read- Millions Of Urban Children Worse Than Rural People: UNICEF

The researchers found that salivary cortisol levels increased significantly in the volunteers that took the stress test in the morning while no such response was observed in those that took the test in the evening.

“Our body can respond to the morning stress event by activating the HPA axis and sympathetic nervous system, but it needs to respond to evening stress event by activating the sympathetic nervous system only,” Yamanaka said. (IANS)