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Mental Mondays: 5 Surprising Ways Cow Hug Therapy Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

Mental Mondays: 5 Surprising Ways Cow Hug Therapy Can Help Improve Your Mental Health



ot milk? No. Perhaps a hug will do this time,” says the healing cow at the barn. Recently, cow hug therapy has become popular (like other forms of animal-assisted therapy), and is also an adaptable form of mental release that has helped individuals maintain a balanced mind-body relationship. When it comes to animal-assisted therapy, dogs and cats have been man’s good friends for so long but little did we know that a cozy bovine hug could pack such a mental punch that easily complements the canines and felines.

This form of therapy originated in the Netherlands and is called “koe knuffelen’‘ by the Dutch, which literally means “cow hugging.” An American sanctuary farm chain named Gentle Barn with locations in California, Tennessee, and Missouri has become popular for saving neglected and endangered farm animals and hosting over 500,000 humans from different parts of the world to hug cows, cuddle turkeys, give pigs tummy rubs, and heal from the chaotic noise of the outside world.

Ellie Laks, the founder of the Gentle Barn, shares; “We rescue animals from severe abuse and neglect and, once healed, partner with them to help people going through trauma. We connect people around the world to the magic and love of animals.”

How does this work?

Photo: Pixabay / Pexels

The concept of cow hug therapy is founded on the human-animal bond principle. This encourages individuals to build a bond with an animal, which eventually produces a calming effect and healthy coping mechanisms for mental issues. These snugly cow hugs release oxytocin which soothes the mood and boosts general mental health. Who would have thought hugging a cow could help us unburden from life’s heavy worries? Not me for sure! Also, the process makes individuals recovering from addiction relaxed enough to open up embarrassing and uncomfortable information that can help the process of recovery.

Vulnerability is an integral part of healing, and this process allows individuals to open themselves up without fear of judgment. Perhaps it’s because of the cumbersome size of the cow, which gives people the freedom to get lost in its embrace. Cows can sometimes be heady and won’t be bullied into doing anything. This means if a cow hugs you, they are voluntarily allowing the process. The feeling of these animals “choosing” to spend quality time with a person can further foster vulnerability and a sense of being wanted.

“The cows are very intuitive, affectionate and knowledgeable of their guests’ needs,” shares Laks.

The risks of cow hug therapy

While this form of therapy aids meditation and emotional connection, it’s not void of controversies. There’s a hovering concern about hygiene and safety. Before adopting cow hug therapy, ensure the animals are properly vaccinated, clean, and well-trained to avoid becoming a casualty.

Here are a few ways cow hug therapy can benefit you…

#1. It increases self-esteem

Photo: Gustavo Fring / Pexels

This process helps people stay in touch with themselves and boosts the confidence needed to go through life. Continued exposure to meditation with these animals helps a person become more comfortable with themselves, and this reflects in the way they handle issues boldly.

#2. It helps individuals communicate

Photo: Vanessa Garcia / Pexels

Once therapy hits the right spots, it helps individuals hone their social skills. You realize that communicating with others is no longer awkward and you’ve become receptive to social activities, even the ones you lost interest in.

#3. It serves as stress relief and anti-anxiety

Photo: Mental Health America (MHA) / Pexels

This is an obvious benefit, but equally important. When you alienate yourself from the outside noise and tune in to your inner strength and peace, it shuts out anxious thoughts and calms the nerves.

#4. It may correct trust issues

Photo: Trung Nguyen / Pexels

If life has meted out its fair share of meanness and betrayal to you, you’d understand how it can affect your willingness to trust others. With cow hug therapy, people tend to loosen up and trust again. The more you’re exposed to the serene and protective atmosphere, the more you let your guard down and receive healing for your soul.

#5. Cow hug therapy reduces impulsive behavior

Photo: Mohamed Abdelghaffar / Pexels

Over time, it’s been recorded that people tend to control their negative outbursts in the presence of these bovine creatures — especially children. You’d also notice that self-restraint begins to show up in other aspects of life.

This symbiotic form of therapy might be what we truly need in this fast-paced world. As relaxing as cow hugging is for us, the cows also tend to relax and be in the moment. Would you adopt this?

Featured Image: irongirlnadia | Instagram 

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