Married people have lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than their single, widowed or divorced peers, according to a new study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Previous research has suggested that being in a relationship may come with health advantages, but exactly how romantic partnerships improved well being was a mystery until now.

For this new study, researchers measured the cortisol levels of 572 healthy adults and found that not only did married people have lower levels, but their levels also dropped faster after waking up, which is when our cortisol levels tend to reach their highest point of the day. Increased levels of cortisol can affect all aspects of our health, from our sleep to our ability to regulate inflammation, a driver of many chronic illnesses.

Of course, being married is far from the only way to manage your stress. We’ve got advice here and here that anyone, regardless of relationship status, can benefit from.

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