When you're feeling snowed under with work at the office, the kids are driving you mad running around the house screaming or you've just had a blazing row with your best friend, how do you de-stress?

Do you take a long relaxing soak in the bath? Grab your trainers and head out for a run around the local park? Spend a few minutes with a punch bag?

While all of the above may help to release some tension, it turns out that one of the most effective and simple ways to de-stress when you're feeling anxious or angry is to spend some time petting your cat or dog.

"There's absolute scientific evidence that having pets where you can do the petting has a substantial impact on stress, a positive impact," says life coach Seven Suphi.

And not only will feeding your feline friend some cat food treats or giving Fido a hug make you feel calmer and happier, but stroking and petting is also believed to lower blood pressure.

In fact, so great are the benefits gained from the companionship of animals that there are now several charities that arrange for dogs and their handler to visit hospitals, care homes and specialist schools to spend time with both adults and children.

"Research has shown, besides our own experiences, that those who have had illnesses have had increased recovery rates with pets and petting," Seven adds.

"The action of stroking is soothing for us. So those who have had an operation and aren't allergic, obviously, have seen recovery increase by stroking pets."

And if you are allergic to our furry friends? Then get yourself a goldfish, as many people say that simply the action of watching them swim around the tank helps to make you feel calm and soothed.

Written by: Hannah