Hot Bath Therapy for Loneliness

You've seen the cliche in romantic comedy (and to a lesser extent, drama) movies in which a brokenhearted woman takes a bath and cries or drinks or talks to her BFF on the phone, and as ridiculous as I always thought this was, science has uncovered an interesting benefit to soaking in the tub. Christie Nicholson at Scientific American reports:
Scientists analyzed the bathing habits of 51 people. And had them record how they felt before and after bathing. The researchers found that higher scores on a measure of chronic loneliness were associated with an increase in warmer baths or showers. In a separate study, to test the link between physical temperature and emotional state, scientists had subjects hold cold and hot packs and recorded levels of perceived loneliness. They confirmed the correlation between cold packs and high loneliness scores.

Then in another study the researchers had subjects recall a time when they were feeling excluded. This exercise made the subjects subsequently desire comforting social activities like hanging with friends. But this desire was reduced for those subjects who were asked to hold a warm pack.

The authors claim this association between warmth and security is innate, yet many are not aware of the link, at least when it comes to warm baths. In another study they found that subjects do not think of a frequent bather as a particularly lonely person. A little obsessive maybe, but not lonely.

Link | Image: Newscom

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The study that was conducted by John A. Bargh and Idit Shalev at Yale University is available on the web at http://www.yale.edu/acmelab/articles/Bargh_Shalev_Emotion.pdf
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