Next time you’re anxious about a job interview, big exam or other stressful event, try hugging or calling your mom. A 2010 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that being comforted by your mother in person or simply hearing her voice over the phone triggers a surge in the calming hormone oxytocin and reduces your body’s output of the stress hormone cortisol, making you more relaxed. What’s more, the stress-busting effect is long-lasting, sticking around hours after the task you’re fretting about is over.
No mom around? My hunch is that connecting with any close female relative (like a sister, grandma or aunt) or friend would have a similar stress-busting effect since research shows that oxytocin rises whenever women bond with other women they feel emotionally close to.