Work stress got you down? Monday blues getting the best of you? There may be a cure: more cuddling! According to a new study, couples that express intimacy, be it through snuggling, kissing or sex, have lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. The study supports past research that's found that married people are generally healthier than singletons (and we're not just talking health-care benefits) and that women who are in bad relationships have weaker immune systems.
For a week, 51 German couples recorded their anxiety levels and activities and collected daily saliva samples so scientists could measure the amount of cortisol present. Researchers found that the more intimacy a couple reported the less cortisol was in their spit. Work stress was especially affected by physical affection—meaning the next time you've had a hard day you can tell your husband that science mandates he give you a massage! Or not.
The study's lead researcher said that you shouldn't force intimacy on yourself in hopes of curing anxiety. Instead, you should do something that both you and your man enjoy. Each couple is different, so your best friend's intimacy may mean loud monkey sex on the kitchen table, while closeness for you may be a chaste bit of handholding. If it feels like affection it's likely lowering your stress hormone levels.
So what if you're single? Get out there and start dating! YourTango has a bunch of online dating sites that'll (eventually) do your body good. And if you like being single? Try cuddling with a friend, puppy, or your massage therapist. Intimacy comes in many forms—you never know what'll work!