Science has provided various ways to unwind and relax after a long and stressful day at work. While lying in bed for long hours is not one of them, practically learning a recipe has been proven to help one calm their mind down.
Therapeutic cooking has the beneficial effect of managing mood inconsistencies and depression because cooking imparts a goal-focused mentality in the person doing the activity. Additionally, cooking is advantageous over most of the therapeutic exercises as it can be done from the comfort of our homes and with locally available ingredients. Also, only some little effort is needed to step into the kitchen.
Therapeutic and Practical
According to Nicole Lambert, a professional counsellor working at Movement Counseling Services, cooking provides a platform to express one’s creativity and a distraction to channel out mind energy. Additionally, one is mastering a skill that can be used to benefit oneself or others at home.
In as much as there are potentially many mental benefits in cooking, the process is not easy. The exercise is made harder to accomplish especially if we are mentally stressed. Scientifically speaking, a low mood feeling depletes us of energy and motivation to cook as well as the desire for food.
Regardless of the complexity of the dish/food we are cooking, studies have shown observable and a positive mental feeling at the end of the cooking process. This beneficial mental mood is compounded if you are cooking a meal for yourself and others too.
Cooking can be good for your mental health in the following amazing six ways:
Cooking is Rewarding In An Abstract and Tangible Way
The cooking process is seen into two parts; the cooking activity and the resulting food/dish at the end of the cooking process. Psychologists identified the reason why therapeutic cooking is so effective was that the participants got a physical result as a reward for the cooking effort.
The basis of this presupposition is regarded as behavioural activation where the human mind develops the required motivation to carry out activity after establishing the goal or the purpose of the activity. The resulting reward for cooking can be understood partially as delicious food and partially as a show that the cooking activity has given rise to tangible results regardless of the taste of the food.
Cooking Lets Us To Be Creative
The creativity of the human mind is an essential factor for feeling happy. Easy cooking recipes have more beneficial effects compared to the more difficult ones. This is because simple recipes do not generate anxiety conditions associated with the execution of difficult tasks. This is according to a 2016 test study carried out on a total number of 658 people.
The study established that individuals overall felt more content and happy, confident and capable when they completed a simple task like baking.
It Increases Quality of Social Life and Working With Others
A study carried out in 2018 on a select community of individuals established that therapeutic cooking made the participants feel more self-confident and improved and expanded their socialisation skills.
Cookery programs and cooking classes bring people together and teach them calmness and other dynamic attributes required when working with others in a team or a group.
Cooking is Economical
All hotels and restaurants are businesses seeking to make a profit from selling cooked food to their customers.
According to Shane Perry, a finance expert from Max Funding, “Cooking saves money and alleviates the overall financial position of an individual. Poor use of monetary resources can be the source of stress to persons and their spouses at home. Arguably, the use of money is a common area of conflict between married couples.” She adds, “When we cook at home, we cut down on food cost. Cooking at home strengthens relationships between family members.”
Therapeutic Cooking is a Good Mind Distraction Activity
Many people say cooking makes them feel calmer and according to Justyna Wawrzonek, a professional therapist, cooking almost feels like meditation because people often lose track of time when they pay attention to the cooking process.
Therapeutic cooking has been shown to give tranquillity to many people especially someone struggling with negative thinking patterns of worry and fear.
Cooking For Others Teaches Selflessness
Cooking for other people is in itself a self-sacrificing activity. It is through such altruistic mannerism where we learn to empathise with others among other social qualities. Apart from the objective of preparing tasty food, there are mental beneficial virtues to be learnt from cooking for others.
Altruistic cooking strengthens social bonds while we are celebrating or entertaining our friends and family.
Baking Unlocks All Your Senses
According to psychologist Dr. Linda Blair, a qualified psychologist, baking triggers all 5 sensory organs in the human body such as smell and results in the production of stress and pain-relieving chemicals in the brain.
When we are baking, all our senses such as sight, taste, smell, feelings and even sound are active and on high alert. Cooking/baking can be used as an alternative to using mobile phones, movies and television shows that are daily on our screens.
The sense of smell or taste can rekindle old blissful memories that had been long forgotten.
By all measures, it is not surprising at all that baking and generally, therapeutic cooking has been used by many as a mind-relaxing hobby and a way to improve the overall quality of life.
Cooking/baking provides an effective alternative to watching movies for people who might feel a bit depressed or stressed by daily life challenges. Instead of turning on the television, playing video games or sleeping for longer hours, you may decide to walk to the kitchen and bake some cookies or a brown cake. The process will also certainly be interesting.
Cooking provides an alternative to divert mind energy and at the end of cooking/baking, one feels self-assuring and relaxed.
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Written by Eliana Evison