In the increasingly hectic and stressful year of 2020, people seek calm wherever they can find it, from frolicking in the fields to adopting plants. But now there is another natural way to restore cortisol levels: hug cows.
People in different 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 binding hormone oxytocin.
The cows are specially chosen for their warm body temperature and calm demeanor, the outlet reported.
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“Cows are very relaxed animals, they don’t fight, they don’t get into trouble,” a farm owner who promotes the practice told the BBC. “You come to the fields and we have special cows hugging and you can lie down next to them [them] – people think it’s very relaxing. “
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Farms in the United States and Switzerland have also adopted the wellness fashion, which, according to a 2007 study in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, also benefits cows.
Researchers have found that when animals are rubbed, massaged or stroked, they also experience relaxation and pleasure.
“This suggests that cows may in part perceive human stroking of often licked body regions in a similar way to social licking,” the researchers write in their study.
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However, if you are not near a farm, stroking smaller pets has also been shown to lower blood pressure in humans and provide relaxation effects.