Over the course of the pandemic, people have found new ways to keep their mental health intact — whether that means working out, journaling, or going on a Zoom call with friends. One such self-care routine is cooking. Of course, this is no surprise, as a full stomach can do wonders for elevating your mood. However, CNN notes that the act of cooking itself has therapeutic benefits as well. We list down a few of them below:
It gives you an achievable goal.
According to the Society of Clinical Psychology, behavioral action refers to “increasing patients’ contact with sources of reward” by exposing them to doable tasks that make them feel more accomplished. It’s one of the reasons ticking boxes off a checklist feels so satisfying — and cooking for mental wellness works in much the same way. The various activities associated with cooking, from dicing veggies to washing the dishes, all offer you a sense of control — which is something that’s sorely needed as the world navigates through COVID-19. When you’re focused on an achievable reward — a homemade meal, in this case — it’s easier to reduce procrastination and stay on track with your mental health.
It promotes mindfulness.
There’s a certain meditative quality in repetition that encourages mindfulness, and this includes the attendant chores of cooking. At its core, cooking is a ritual that gives you the opportunity to be present, appreciative and nonjudgmental. Focusing on your inner dialogue and the actual experience of cooking allows you to forget about your problems, if only for a moment. With that said, mindfulness is a muscle that needs to be practiced, and cooking is one good way to do that.
It helps you attain other fitness milestones.
Fast food culture has become prevalent around the world thanks to an increasingly busy workforce. But though fast food can be convenient, eating fatty, sodium-laden foods will eventually take a toll on your physical and mental health. Instead, make it a habit to cook your meals for the week ahead of schedule. This will not only give you full control over your nutrition needs, but will also free you up to do other self-care tasks like exercising and meditation.
To make meal prep easier, use multifunctional appliances. For example, you can use tools like the Braun FP3020 food processor to whip up a smoothie or shred some lettuce for a salad. Meanwhile, an Aroma rice cooker is great for cooking quinoa, rice, and even vegetables — all in one pot. With all this said, taking charge of your meals will make you healthier, both inside and out, so make meal prepping a part of your routine.
It engages the senses directly.
We’ve all been forced to stay at home because of the pandemic, which means we’ve had little to no sensory stimulation all this time. When this happens, everyday living becomes drudgery; you’re basically going through the motions with little reward. Cooking, however, can serve as a remedy, as it directly engages the pleasure centers of your brain through the sights, smells, and tastes of home-cooked meals. This gives you the mental health boost you need to take on other activities.
It allows you to flex your creative muscle.
A report on Bloomberg notes that individuals who engaged in artistic activities reported lower rates of depression and greater life satisfaction. Indeed, everyone, no matter how artistically challenged, must have a creative pursuit in order to live a holistic life. For some, cooking fulfills that need. True enough, experimenting with recipes, ingredients, and cooking methods are also one form of self-expression that can bring you joy and a sense of fulfillment.
As we’ve mentioned before in our post on ‘Why Mental Health Should be Your Top Priority in 2021’, it’s important to pay attention to your mental well-being, given the effects of COVID-19. Take care of yourself by building positive habits like cooking, which nourishes both your body and your mind.