Cooking your own food will save you cash and allow you to track your calories to keep the body in the best shape. Being in the kitchen makes one look at the ingredient lists of their food to know what they are putting in their body that might not be all that healthy. It turns out there is a mental health benefit, too: you might feel better mentally for it, which leads us to cooking therapy. It’s no secret that the world is currently going through economically challenging times. People around the globe are feeling the pinch of record high inflation and students, who are more vulnerable to price shocks than the general population, are feeling the impact on their mental health. Survey shows: 60% of US students are worried about financial situation.
Cooking therapy, also culinary or kitchen therapy, has a way of making you feel better, given that it is a form of self-care. While you cannot solve the world’s problems, you can whip up a meal to be enjoyed with others or alone, which is enough to make the mind and body appreciative.
Here’s more on why you should cook regularly.
A Psychology Today article described cooking therapy as a way to “nourish your mind and feed your soul,” which is a good step toward feeling better when you are unwell. As a student or a general human being, you are prone to feeling out of control once in a while. It could be mental health essays that need to be completed before the next class or work-related matters, but all these matter less when you are in the kitchen chopping up ingredients. The simple act of being in control of the prep, deciding what goes into your meals, and even putting together a meal plan.
Baking is yet another way of easing the effects of overall mental blocks that is so effective that it has been recommended for people dealing with depression, chronic stress, eating disorders, anxiety, ADHD, and various forms of addiction. Being in control of what goes inside the meal you are cooking gives you a boost that could help better other areas of your life.
Apart from the control you feel, some people are observed to feel a sense of accomplishment for the things they get done when they cook. If you like taking care of others and yourself, this sense of being able to do that is enough to make the brain feel great.
When you cook as a team, you are bound to work together to make that meal a success, fostering togetherness and engagement. At treatment centers, people are required to talk a lot about their feelings and emotions as a form of treatment, but that can stress one out, especially when you are not great at engaging with others.
It becomes much easier when an exciting activity is involved, and cooking has been seen as one of those activities. It would not feel like therapy as you would be talking to your peers and even bantering as teens or young adults with a lot in common. Over time, this way of letting things out becomes an effective way to get one to say what’s on their mind. Once prep and cooking are done, you all get to enjoy the meal together, which is yet another form of engagement and bonding.
Cooking doesn’t have to be a by-the-book thing as you are allowed to be as creative as you want if that will give you a positive feeling towards your meal. When most people cook, they lose track of time and focus solely on the task at hand, which makes it easy to zone on one thing. While in this zone, they might experiment with things that might work – or not – which brings a feeling of satisfaction, regardless of the results. Each time you let the mind zoom into one area without a care about what is happening in the world, you experience some sense of calm that takes away your cares and creates room for creativity.
We live in times when being isolated is celebrated and said to be brave, but the human mind and body are built for socializing. Even if you enjoy your own company almost too much, you will always crave the presence of others once in a while.
Cooking and eating with others will make you feel like you are a part of society, boosting social skills and easing one’s mood. You might be a little anxious around others if sharing a meal is not your thing, but these feelings disappear as you get used to sharing food and a good laugh, and you may even discover how good you are at making conversations. One thing you may want to remember is that getting out of your comfort zone – where you eat alone – is not always easy, and it will take intentionality.
Cooking therapy has its risks, too, now that we have already looked at rewards. Taking it too seriously leaves no room for learning or mistakes, which might take a toll. You will view it as more of a task than a fun thing to get things off your mind. As much as you can help it, you want to see this form of therapy as a fun activity that will ease your mind and make it easy to connect with yourself and others. If you become too competitive, you might stress yourself in the process.