LAJFSTAJ L / L I FESTYLE Cow hugging » Grljenje krava | 75 NEW L I F EST Y L E T R END CONQUE R I NG T HE WOR L D Hug a cow against stress “Koe knuffelen” in Dutch (the Dutch pioneered the practise) is more than a cute wellness trend. With enormous benefits to mental and psychological health, this practise is becoming increasingly attractive around the world, especially during this time of the pandemic From goat yoga to sound baths, the world is awashwithwellness trends that are designed to calm the body and soothe the spirit. And this need extends even further during this time of the pandemic, when this form of self-help from the Netherlands promises relaxation, intimacy and lots of smiles. Called “koe knuffelen” inDutch (literally “cow cuddling”), this practise centres around the healing properties of a good snuggle. In this case the snuggle is between humans and cows, but the same system applies to all warm-blooded animals. This is known best by everyone who owns pets, thoughwith cows there is an additional advantage – they are huge, which enhances the effect. Their warmer body temperature, slower heart rate and enormous size canmake hugging these animals an incredibly soothing experience. And this is all part of the therapeutic encounter. Cuddling cows is believed to promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting levels oxytocin, the hormone that’s released during social bonding, while the calming effects of embracing a pet or emotional support animal appear to be accentuated when cuddling larger mammals. A cow hugging session usually starts with a tour of the farm, before you hang out with one of the cows, with the session lasting at least an hour or more. You can recline against them, stroke them and rub them, which they also enjoy greatly. According to a 2007 study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the cows show signs of a state of deep relaxation, stretching out and allowing their ears to fall backwhen they’re massaged on certain parts of the neck and upper back. So, this trend guarantees mutual enjoyment and benefits, making it even more attractive. This wholesome pastime appeared in rural Dutch provinces more than a decade ago and now forms part of a wider Dutch movement aimed at bringing people closer tonature and rural life. Farms inRotterdam, Switzerland, and increasingly the United States, are today offering cow-hugging sessions. During these terrible times of the pandemic, you can't cuddle your friends or embrace your grandkids, but you can hug animals. Will physical bonding with cows survive COVID?Who knows? But the practise provides a certain reminder that terrible times filled with loneliness and loss, courage and generosity, sometimes lead to humans finding peculiar solutions that enable us to survive and move forward. Whatever our new normal may look like, it seems that heartfelt bonding with cows may be just what the doctor ordered. And particularly given that you’ll likely have a hard time continuing to eat steaks after the experience, which is also a much healthier and nobler option! FOTO: Profimedia.rs / Brigitte Sporrer / ImageSource