We bring you three feel-good stories to break up the daily barrage of tough news

The first thing I heard this morning was my partner reel off the potential of another lockdown. And although it’s certainly good to share your thoughts and worries, just for a moment, I desperately wanted to stay in blissful ignorance about the current pandemic.

As we navigate COVID life, the news can often seem like it’s on a constant cycle of doom and gloom, and sometimes that black cloud can engulf us. So with looming lockdowns on the horizon, I don’t want that to be the focus of your day.

What I do want (and think you might too!) is dancing doctors, cuddly cows and beautiful birdsong to kickstart your morning. So here they are: three feel-good stories to give you a well-deserved intermission from the tough news broadcasting.

The dancing doctor

Dr Arup Senapati, an ENT surgeon from India has been captured by his colleagues dropping some sharp moves for his COVID-19 patients, to bring a smile to their faces.

The video of the kind-hearted doctor who was dressed in his PPE kit and dancing in one of the wards in Silchar Medical College, Assam has gone viral on Twitter, even gaining praise from the song’s artist and bringing smiles to the faces of many, across the globe.

Singing sparrows in San Francisco

City birds in San Francisco used the empty streets over March and April to practise singing softer songs using a wider range of notes! Bay Area residents reported hearing more birds when local lockdown restrictions were enforced, and they were right. But what they didn’t realise is that the birds had tuned in to the silence.

Researchers studied the birdsong and compared it with that of before lockdown, discovering that the resident sparrows were producing softer songs that were able to travel far greater distances, without the interruption of traffic noise, plus using a greater bandwidth of notes. A heartwarming interlude of COVID life for the city residents.

Cow cuddling

A new self-care practise taking the Netherlands by storm sees locals cuddling with cows to tap into the inherent healing powers of human-to-animal-interaction, by promoting positivity, and boosting oxytocin levels.

Aptly named koe knuffelen in Dutch, which directly translates to 'cow hugging', the practise sees cow cuddlers take a tour of the farm first, before bedding down (or just resting against!) a cow for a few hours. Evoking a precious sense of companionship, the experience has calming effects for both human and animal. I personally would like my own cuddle cow!

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From goat yoga to sound baths, the world is full of wellness trends designed to soothe and calm both body and spirit. Now, a self-care practice hailing from the Netherlands is promising practitioners serenity, and perhaps a smile or two. Dubbed “koe knuffelen” in Dutch (literally “cow hugging”), the practice is centred on the inherent healing properties of a good human-to-animal snuggle. Cow cuddlers typically start by taking a tour of the farm before resting against one of the cows for two to three hours. The cow’s warmer body temperature, slower heartbeat and mammoth size can make hugging them an incredibly soothing experience, and giving the animal a backrub, reclining against them or even getting licked is all part of the therapeutic encounter. Cow cuddling is believed to promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting oxytocin in humans, the hormone released in social bonding. The calming effects of curling up with a pet or emotional support animal, it seems, are accentuated when cuddling with larger mammals. It seems that heartfelt bonding with bovines may just be what the doctor ordered. Source: BBC Travel (link in bio) #netherlands #cow #mentalhealth #dutch #cow #animal #therapy #nature #countryside

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How to manage bleak news

Right now, it can be difficult to think straight, or find the strength to tune out of the news when it feels like a wave that just keeps coming. But there is help and support available if you’re struggling to see clearly.

To help manage your news intake, try to ensure you are engaging with positive news feeds, this can really help your exposure to bleak news. And if the ‘new normal’ we’re currently experiencing is tricky to navigate, Happiful’s Becky shares five tips for mental wellbeing during the new normal.

If you need to talk, you can reach out to a professional therapist in your local area who provides a safe, confidential space to discuss your worries. Use the search tool below via Counselling Directory to find help.