How Cooking and Self Care Make your Mental Health Better?

Who doesn’t loves food? The process of making food is way more interesting, and it has a lot of benefits as well.

Cooking can be messy sometimes, but you cannot undermine its therapeutic value on physical, cognitive, social, and intrapersonal spheres. Physically, cooking requires good movement in shoulders, fingers, wrists, elbow, neck, as well as good overall balance. Adequate muscle strength is needed in upper limbs for lifting, mixing, cutting, and chopping. Furthermore, sensory awareness is important in considering safety while dealing with hot and sharp objects, as mentioned in the Wall Street Journal.

How Cooking Can be Therapeutic?

It’s said that cooking meets the criteria of a type of therapy known as “behavioral activation” that aims to help people engage in enjoyable activities to enhance their problem-solving skills. Cooking is also used as an intervention in therapeutic and rehabilitative settings, evidence-based cooking interventions have been used to improve nutritional status, weight-related outcomes, and cooking skills, often in low-income and/or minority populations and specific patient populations such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer (Aycinena et al., 2017Rees, Hinds, O’Mara-Eves, & Thomas, 2012Reicks, Trofholz, Stang, & Laska, 2014). 

Can Cooking Help Relieve Stress?

In the current pandemic, people are using cooking as a stress-relieving activity. Trends such as dalgona coffee, baking, cocktails, and other comfort foods took the internet by storm. Cooking reduces stress as it carries an emotional connection, once a good meal is cooked it provides a sense of achievement and makes one feel confident about it. When you’re cooking, you have a greater sense of presence and you go step by step to make the meal. Furthermore, you also activate the right side of your brain, which is also the creative side. Thus, you engage a different part of your brain that you might underuse during the day, this can also encourage the dynamic utilization of cells.

Moreover, the capability to cook one’s food gives a sense of independence in one’s life and expands the mind. Cooking involves an amalgamation of cognitive, physical, and socioemotional processes, and learning to cook involves modeling and mastery of skills, which once acquired can boost the self-esteem as well as promote positive mood and self-confidence.

Cooking tasks have been used to evaluate motor skills in clinical populations including those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Bendixen, Waehrens, Wilcke, & Sorensen, 2014), strokes (Poole, Sadek, & Haaland, 2011), cardiovascular disease (Putzke, Williams, Daniel, Bourge, & Boll, 2000), and in the frail elderly (Provencher, Demers, Gelinas, & Giroux, 2013). Assessment of the ability to perform cooking tasks also is used to evaluate executive function planning in individuals with traumatic brain injury (Poncet et al., 2015), substance abuse (Raphael-Greenfield, 2012), strokes (Baum et al., 2008), and in the elderly (Provencher et al., 2013M. Y. Wang, Chang, & Su, 2011).

You Are What You Eat. Are You?

The popular phrase “You are what you eat” says a lot about the fact that how cooking nutritious food is essential for the mind as well as the body. The phrase says a lot about how the quality of food affects our mental well-being. There also exists a brain-gut connection, which means the gut sends the strongest signals to our brain’s emotional centers.

According to Harvard Medical School “Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress- the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.”

Cooking has taken a form of therapy known as Culinary Therapy, which encompasses cooking, cooking-related activities, such as garden cultivation, planning and preparation of meals, and educational grocery shopping and restaurant experiences. It enhances various skills such as time management, problem-solving, communication, and conscious eating. People across the world have started taking up cooking workshops online as an attempt to stay connected and as well as a means to earn.

Also Read: Are Support Groups an Ideal Self-help strategy for Mental Health?

Conclusion:

Cooking is indeed an insightful activity, it makes you more conscious of the experience as well as involves you in movements, thus keeping you physically fit as well. The pandemic also sheds a lot of light on the importance of cooking in one’s life when nothing else is feasible. So, even if you don’t know how to cook well, you can always take up online workshops to learn more about the same. Moreover, cooking doesn’t mean that you have to come up with something extravagant, a healthy sandwich is also enough to satiate the hunger.

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Written by:
Shriya Bhatt

I am Shriya Bhatt,currently I’m pursuing psychology honours from LSR. I’m a strong advocate of mental health and  wish to speak and educate people about the same through my writings. I hope that I can break the stigma surrounding it and connect well to my audience.

How Cooking and Self Care Make your Mental Health Better?

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