You already know that certain habits, such as expressing gratitude, learning to compromise, and cuddling, are key for maintaining a happy and healthy relationship. But there's one more surprising habit you might want to add to the list: According to new research presented at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference this week, giving and receiving massages might be just what you and your partner need to boost your moods and strengthen your relationship.
In the May 2017 study, Northumbria University researchers asked 38 participants (19 couples) to complete a three-week massage course. After massage sessions, the participants filled out questionnaires about their physical and mental well-being, stress, coping, and relationship satisfaction.
Ultimately, the researchers found that the couples' overall sense of well-being, perception of stress, and coping abilities had all improved over the three-week course, with the participants reporting increased feelings of physical and mental well-being immediately following each session, regardless of whether they gave or received the massage.
The best part? Three-quarters of the participants continued exchanging massages regularly after the course was over, and even another three weeks after the class had ended, none of the participants' feelings of well-being had decreased significantly.
Of course, this study was small and relied on self-reported data, so more research is needed to prove the direct effects of mutual massage on relationships. But if there's a chance your relationship might benefit from a little extra physical contact and care... what's the harm in giving it a try?
"These findings show that massage can be a simple and effective way for couples to improve their physical and mental well-being whilst showing affection for one another," said researcher Sayuri Naruse in a press release. "Massage is a cost-effective and pleasant intervention that isn't just for a therapeutic setting, but can be easily incorporated into a healthy couple's daily routine."
Don't mind if we do!