Inside Scoop: Find out the reasons why cooking is a form of self-care.
This post was submitted by Megan Darmody, a senior content marketing specialist who loves camping and coffee.
Life can be stressful. Balancing work, meeting your financial needs, maintaining relationships and managing all of the other responsibilities life throws at you can be daunting.
However, these can all be sources of joy and in some cases, are what make life worth living. One of these responsibilities viewed as a chore is cooking. It’s another thing that has to be done day after day. Even after a bad day, food is fuel to keep you moving through your day, and too often we turn to convenient solutions such as going out to eat or throwing a meal in the microwave.
Yet with the right mindset and approach, cooking can offer therapeutic benefits. Inspired by Kitchen Cabinet Kings visual on 8 ways cooking is like self-care cooking can foster not only your physical well-being but also your mental health. Check out the full visual below for added tips!
Ways Cooking is a Form of Self-Care
Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment and calmly accepting and acknowledging the thoughts, feelings and sensations of that moment. The benefits of mindfulness have been shown to offer both psychological and physical benefits, including stress reduction, improved focus, enhanced cognitive flexibility and boosts to the immune system.
While it’s traditionally been associated with activities such as meditation and yoga, many activities can be performed while in a mindful state, and cooking is no exception.
If you already enjoy the process of cooking, it should be easy to enter a state of mindfulness. If not, it might take a little more practice and effort to get there.
Find recipes that can help foster a mindful state of mind. Perhaps for you that means starting with a simple recipe that uses basic techniques and familiar ingredients like these 5-Ingredient Healthy Falafel Balls or this Turkey Burger with Feta. This will help you to more easily enter a peaceful state of mind.
Or, maybe a more complex and challenging recipe will force you to concentrate on the present moment and offer a distraction from negative thought processes. You can try this Creamy Cauliflower Risotto or this Beer Battered Fish & Chips Recipe.
You may find that different types of recipes work better depending on how your day went.
Engage Your Senses
Focus on the moment while cooking, letting other stressors fade away. Prep ingredients with care and precision. Engage as many of your senses as possible, allowing sight, smell and sounds to overcome you. From sizzling oil to boiling water or the aroma of your Grandma’s recipe, there are many calming elements in the kitchen.
Try to avoid as many stressors as possible. Give yourself plenty of time to prep and cook so you don’t feel rushed. Practice letting go of any negative thoughts or emotions that enter your mind. The practice of mindfulness may take time but the more you do it, it will become easier and easier to achieve.
Instead of looking at cooking as a chore that you’re forced to do, look at it as a creative outlet. Creative activities can be incredibly rewarding. Spending time and effort on something that you can later say “I made that” can ignite a spark of pride and accomplishment.
Like most creative activities have a downside; once you’ve made something you have to figure out what to do with it. If you paint or sew or do woodworking, you eventually end up with piles of completed projects that you don’t have enough space for or enough friends or family to give them to.
With cooking, you eat what you make. You don’t have to worry about the aftermath, as most friends or family will love a home-cooked meal. It also doubles as an activity to spend time with your loved ones and improve your relationships.
We often find ourselves falling into routines. Even when it’s something we truly enjoy; it can get repetitive.
This may be why people dread having to figure out what to cook. While they may have enjoyed cooking at one point, having to do it time and time again sapped their enthusiasm and made them start dreading even the thought of cooking.
Cooking is a perfect way to bring some mental stimulation to your daily routine. Experiment with new ingredients that you’ve never eaten before. Learn and practice new techniques. Research and experiment with recipes, following different variations on the same dish or combining elements of different recipes into something new.
Our lives are full of commitments and responsibilities. Far too often, we find ourselves dreading the things that deep down we love but are forced to do. If you’re lucky, you can find ways to turn what you love into a profession, but even then, burn out can happen.
Finding joy in the simplest things, like accomplishing a new recipe or not deflating that soufflé, can help you enjoy the process of life much more.
The act of eating can be mentally or emotionally rejuvenating. We stress eat. We treat ourselves to a special meal after a particularly good (or bad) day. We grab a cup of coffee to get us through the morning or a pint of ice cream to console us.
Instead, approach cooking with a positive mindset, and you can find as much joy in the process of creating a recipe as you do when you consume your meal.
As a senior content marketing specialist, Megan is most passionate about creating and promoting unique content that drives client growth. Outside of the office, you can find her seeking out the next camping spot or consuming way too much coffee.