There’s lots of good advice on how to stay healthy: eat a balanced diet, exercise frequently, don’t smoke, and things like that. But research shows that having purpose and meaning in your life can keep you healthy, too. Here’s the scoop.

According to researcher, Stephanie Hooker, PhD., a meaningful life is “basically the idea that your life makes sense, you’re here for a reason, and you’re significant in the world.”

And when you have a purpose that motivates you and inspires you to move forward, it’s more likely that you’ll be healthier. Here are just three areas of your health that you can improve simply by having a purpose and meaning in your life.

Lower your stress

When you have a strong sense of purpose, you’re able to stay focused on what’s most important. Stress effects us all, but when you live a meaningful life, you control the extent to which stress impacts you.

Increase your self-care

When you believe that you matter and that you have something valuable to contribute to this world, you will value and take care of yourself more. This goes for everything from exercise, diet and relationships.

Better coping mechanisms

We all face adversities, and these can often bring us down if we let them. But when we believe we still have lots to offer to the world, we have a greater greater resolve and commitment to overcome struggles.

Having a purpose and meaning to your life gives you so many other health benefits, too. What gives your life meaning and purpose?