By Colette Newer, Washington Conference outreach ministries director


Hugging cows, or ‘Cow Cuddling’ as some call it, is the latest trend in de-stressing strategies.

It all began in the rural countryside of the Netherlands where a couple was fostering a daughter. The daughter found spending time with the cows therapeutic. Since then it’s become part of a movement to promote positivity and reduce stress while reconnecting people with the countryside.

In the midst of stress-filled, modern lives, it seems that there’s always a new anti-stress technique being touted as cure for our hustle-bustle lives. Old standbys include exercising, getting a good laugh and spending time with a pet. More recently, scientists have uncovered the benefits of taking a walk in the woods and, of course, hugging a cow.

An older method you might be familiar with is serving others. Connecting with other people through acts of kindness and mercy. Jesus Himself recommended this anti-stressor when he said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” He knew that service has mental, physical, spiritual and emotional benefits for us. Ones that we are still learning about. What are some of them?

  • Service has proven to lower blood pressure and raise oxycontin – the happiness hormone. One research study showed that older individuals who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year decreased their risk of hypertension by 40 percent!
  • Reduces suffering from chronic pain. Chronic pain sufferers who gave regular service experienced a reduction in the pain they felt.
  • Increases happiness and satisfaction. Those who serve are less depressed and have a greater sense of purpose.
  • Service is infectious. One person’s good deeds have been shown to have a ripple effect inspiring others to do the same.

Why do you think service is so powerful? I believe it’s because when we serve, we’re spending time with Jesus. Jesus was known for hanging out with the most vulnerable of humans. He walked among them, he engaged with them, he befriended and even healed them. So if you’re looking for Jesus, those in need are a good place to start. In Matthew 25:45, we’re told that, “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’"

When you serve, you touch God. And who can be stressed out in His presence?

Again, in Acts 20:25 we’re told that Jesus Himself recommended serving others, stating that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Feed a family, teach a child how to read, welcome an immigrant. And while you do, you will find your own life enriched and full.

There’s times in all of our lives when the stress it getting to us. And if I had a cow in my life, I would certainly give it a hug. But I still wouldn’t give up the benefits of serving.

How has service made a difference in your life this year?