Feeling stressed out? Hug a cow at this St. Louis-area farm

The Gentle Barn in Dittmer, Missouri features some "famous" bovine therapists
Hugging a cow at the Gentle Barn
Cow hugging therapy Photo credit The Gentle Barn

DITTMER, Mo. (KMOX) - Levels of stress and depression, which began to skyrocket during 2020, have not gone down in 2021. In fact, according to the Boston University School of Public Health, it's gotten worse, climbing to 32.8% and affecting 1 in every 3 American adults.

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So what to do? How about hug a cow! Cow hugging therapy is a thing and it's available in the St. Louis area, thanks to the Gentle Barn.

"Oh, it is just the best thing in the whole world," says Gentle Barn co-founder Ellie Laks. "I don't know how anyone gets through life without hugging cows."

According to Laks, cows are "magical," and also like giant puppy dogs in that they like to lick and are affectionate. She says when someone does cow hugging therapy, they'll find their breathing syncs with the cow, their heartbeat slows, oxytocin increases and the person feels peace and hope.

Hear more from Ellie Laks and what cow-hugging is like:

The Gentle Barn in Dittmer, Missouri opened because of some famous cows that now reside there. Namely, the five cows that in 2017 escaped from a slaughterhouse in North St. Louis and were running around the city. Laks said no rescue organization stepped up to take the pardoned cows, so the Gentle Barn, with locations in California and Tennessee, scooped them up and started the Dittmer location.

"What's so amazing about their story," Laks explains, "is they were inside a slaughterhouse, then running for their lives, scared to death. And now, they're cow hug therapists at the Gentle Barn."

Houdini, cow hugging therapist at the Gentle Barn. Slaughterhouse escapee. Photo credit The Gentle Barn

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Featured Image Photo Credit: The Gentle Barn