Reader, do you ever just really, really need a hug, but embracing your best friend or pet cat just doesn't hit the spot? Moooove over puppy cuddling sessions and goat yoga, there's another hot, new form of animal stress therapy in town, er, well, country -- cow-hugging.
The "self-care practice," which is known as "Koe knuffelen" (which literally translates to cow hugging) in Dutch, originated in a rural town in the Netherlands about a decade ago, according to the BBC, and has since gained popularity around the globe, including Switzerland and the U.S.
So how exactly does it work? Well, after a tour of a quaint farm, cuddlers find a cow and do just that for two to three hours, allowing the animal's relatively slow heartbeat and warm body temperature to help them relax. As a very stressed Midwestern girl, snuggling a cute, fluffy cow might just be the wholesome content I need right now -- and I'm not alone. It turns out science has proven exactly why this practice is just so soothing.
"Cow cuddling is believed to promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting oxytocin in humans, the hormone released in social bonding," the British outlet reported. "The calming effects of curling up with a pet or emotional support animal, it seems, are accentuated when cuddling with larger mammals." Sounds like Doja Cat may have been onto something all along when she rapped about how great cows were in her hit 2018 single, "Mooo!"
And it's not just humans that get something from the cuddles -- according to a 2007 study, the cows enjoy cuddles, too, expressing behaviors related to deep relaxation when being pet or embraced. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving. Moral of the story? When in doubt, hug it out -- especially with a cute, fluffy cow.