Forget Advil: Cold, Hard Cash Is the Best Pain Relief
You know you've had a long day when you head home with a headache, back pain, and eyes so sore they feel like they might roll out of your head. Turns out your medicine cabinet isn't the only place you can find help—instead of popping painkillers, just open up your wallet for instant pain relief.
It's easy to overcome both physical and psychological pain when you have money in hand. Touching a crisp bill or two can prevent and relieve discomfort, whether you're at the doctor's office or your local bar.
Researchers asked a group of college students to count a stack of bills while another group counted paper slips. Once finished, the students placed their hands in a bowl of extremely hot water, burning their skin. The result? Those who had their hands on money prior to burning themselves felt less pain.
Money doesn't just cool the sting of a burn, though. It can also soften the blow of rejection. When researchers gave men money to hold at a bar, those whose advances were rebuffed by women didn't feel a thing. They bounced back quickly, moving on to other potential dates. With cash in their pocket, the men felt confident despite repeated instances of rejection.
No, money doesn't have magical qualities—but it does cast something of a spell on our brains each time we come into contact with it.
Money creates a panacea within your brain, giving you the mental confidence to withstand both physical and social pain. Because money is an object associated with positivity and good social standing, having it on hand instantly makes you feel better. Those happy feelings override any pain or dissatisfaction that might otherwise overwhelm you.
The fact that money can relieve pain is great news—but aren't those twenties in your wallet covered in germs? If you're worried that rubbing your fingers against cash will ruin your health more than help it, you're not alone. We've all heard that rumor about where most $1 bills have been…
Don't let the germ qualities of money scare you away from carrying cash. Sure, bills travel far and wide, touching a lot of hands along the way. Yet very few dollar bills actually carry deadly bacteria. In a 2002 study, researchers found that only 9 bills out of 68 carried viruses.
The benefits of getting your hands on money far outweigh the tiny risk of catching a cold, especially since you can easily carry around a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer to cleanse yourself afterward.
Of course, carrying cash is something of a rarity today. After all, with a pocket full of plastic cards and easy-to-scan smartphone apps, who wants to bother with bills and coins? The rise of helpful apps like Google Wallet and Square have made dollar bills unnecessary—but when it comes to pain, they just don't offer the same effects.
Credit and debit cards have a few disadvantages. They look nothing like money, and for the majority of Americans, they represent debt. As a result, our brains view these plastic squares as poor impostors. Cards don't offer the same feelings of wealth and positivity, and can in fact make us feel guilty rather than happy.
That guilt feeling associated with plastic cards helps some people rein in their spending. If you're afraid you'll spend your cash quickly while carrying it around, a $2 bill can solve your problems. Because $2 bills are collector's items, carrying such a rare item in your wallet will prevent you from spending it. This will allow you to carry a bit of green, yet removes the temptation of making purchases.
You can even take it a step further by carrying foreign currency, that way there's zero risk that you will actually spend it.
No matter how you carry your cash, or which bills you choose, just remember that all it takes is a quick touch to boost your pain tolerance and happiness. If you're someone who grows anxious before a blood test, try touching a few dollar bills before the dreaded activity begins. You might still cry (if you're typically inclined to do so), but you'll walk away feeling less sore than usual.