In the increasingly hectic and stressful year of 2020, people are seeking calm wherever they can find it — from frolicking through the fields to adopting plants. But now there’s another natural way to restore your cortisol levels: cow-hugging.
People in several parts of the world have begun to embrace the alleged wellness trend, which reportedly originated in the Netherlands, where it is known as “koe knuffelen.”
According to the BBC, the practice of cuddling cows is supposed to reduce stress in humans by releasing the bonding hormone oxytocin.
Cows are chosen specifically for their warm body temperatures and calm demeanor, the outlet reported.
“Cows are very relaxed animals, they don’t fight, they don’t get in trouble,” a farm owner who promotes the practice told BBC. “You come to the fields and we have some special hugging cows and you can lie next to [them] — people think it’s very relaxing.”
A 2007 study suggested that the practice, which is catching on in the U.S. and Switzerland, benefits the cows as well as the humans.
Farms in the United States and Switzerland have also adopted the wellness fad, which, according to a 2007 study in the Applied Animal Behavior Science journal, also benefits the cows.
The researchers found when the animals are rubbed, massaged or pet, they experience relaxation and pleasure as well.
“This suggests that cows may in part perceive human stroking of body regions often-licked similarly to social licking,” the researchers write in their study.
Though, if you’re not near a farm, petting smaller domestic animals has also been shown to lower blood pressure in humans and provide relaxation effects.
And the benefits of loving relationships between humans and their pets, of course mainly dogs but also cats and other huggable pets, have been known for decades and longer.