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When two groups of volunteers were exposed to a stressful task, the group that had first reflected on important personal values had a lower stress response. It appears that reflection on things that are personally important helps to buffer the effect of stress. The experiment by Cresswell and colleagues is reported in the November 2005 issue of "Psychological Science." Participants who had thought about an important area of their life, such as religion or a social issue, before the stressful task had lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, after being placed in the stressful situation. Not only does this offer another tool for the stress management tool kit, but it also highlights the effect of thoughts on body chemistry. (Psychological Science. 2005;16:846-852)