If you have a spare 10 minutes, spend it petting a cat or dog. You’ll significantly lower your stress. Researchers from Washington State University have found objective, physiological proof that just 10 minutes spent petting a cat or dog will lower stress levels.

The study authors were inspired by the numerous colleges and universities that have “Pet Your Stress Away” programs for students. That’s when stressed students can spend time with a dog or cat and hopefully put themselves in a more relaxed frame of mind.

For the study, students spent 10 minutes interacting with dogs and cats and had their levels of the stress hormone cortisol checked before and after. The result? The students who interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol. And even the next day, their cortisol levels were still lower!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, go pet a dog or cat for 10 minutes. It’s clinically proven to make you feel better.