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Stressed? Talk to your mom!

world Updated: May 12, 2010 12:17 IST
Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Are you stressed out? Wherever you are, just pick up the phone and talk to your mother, for a new study says that her voice is the best stress relief.

Researchers have carried out the study and found that hearing mother's voice can quickly calm frayed nerves -- and a telephone call often has the same effect as a hug, the Daily Mail reported.

The findings could help explain why mother is often the first person people, even adults, turn to in tough times.

For the study, the researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison looked at the role of oxytocin, a hormone involved in sex, sexual attraction, trust and confidence.

Known as the "cuddle chemical", it's released into the blood during labour -- triggering the production of breast milk -- and floods the brain during breast feeding, helping mother and baby bond.

It also, it seems, is key to a mother's ability to calm her kid relieving stress when it is released in children.

The researchers made a group of seven to 12-year-old girls perform a speech and solve a series of maths problems in front of a panel of strangers. That sent the children's hearts racing and levels of cortisol -- a hormone associated with stress -- soaring.

Once stressed, their mother comforted a third of the girls in person, a third told to speak to her on the phone and a third given a film to watch. Levels of oxytocin rose quickly in those who saw or spoke to their mothers, the findings revealed.

And, to the researchers' surprise, within an hour, the girls who phoned their mothers were just as calm as those who were comforted in person.

"It was understood that oxytocin release in the context of social bonding usually required physical contact. But it's clear from these results that a mother's voice can have the same effect as a hug," lead researcher Leslie Seltzer was quoted as saying.

The findings have been published in the 'Proceedings of the Royal Society B' journal.