Enjoyable activities like eating good food and having sex don’t just provide pleasure. They lower stress by blocking anxiety responses in the brain, researchers say.
A team at the University of Cincinnati found that pleasurable experiences also seem to have longer-term benefits because the relaxing effects lasted at least seven days.
“These findings give us a clearer understanding of the motivation for consuming ‘comfort food’ during times of stress,” lead researcher Yvonne Ulrich-Lai said in a statement. “But it’s important to note that even small amounts of pleasurable foods can reduce the effects of stress.”
Ulrich-Lai and colleagues including James Herman, director of the school’s Laboratory of Stress Neurobiology, gave rats access to a sugar solution twice a day for two weeks. They then measured the rodents’ behavioral and physiological responses to stress.
The rats who were given sugar water had lower heart rates and stress hormone levels and were more adventurous and social with other rats than the ones in the control group with no access to the sugar solution.
More experiment details can be found at the link below.