A small study, involving 25 women who had been in healthy and loving relationships for at least six months, found gazing at images of loved ones helps manage pain. In the study heat was applied to the forearm of each participant, the women reported their levels of pain while looking at a photo of their boyfriend, when looking at a photo of a stranger, and while looking at a picture of a chair. The women also received the heat treatment when holding hands with their guys, while holding hands with a complete stranger, and while holding a stress ball.
Overall the women reported the lowest amount of pain when in the "presence" of their partners, whether it be from their boyfriend's photo or actual hand. This simple experiment illustrated how the support of a loved one can help ease pain. The next time you want to pop some Tylenol, grab a framed photo or the hand of someone you love instead. Or if you're going through a painful experience and your favorite person can't be with you, the researchers suggest bringing a photo of the special person along. It could have the same calming effect.