While some find cooking to be a chore and a boring activity, others find immense joy in the process of preparing food. However, anyone who enjoys cooking will tell you that there is something magical about it, something that makes them feel good, and it’s not just the promise of a good meal afterwards. Cooking is a form of meditation that can both give you energy and calm you down, and kitchen time can really be therapeutic.
Cooking makes people happy
According to a research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, small creative activities such as cooking and baking can actually improve your mood. This means that when you have a bad day, have a lot of things going on at work, or you don’t get along with your roommate, you should put on your apron and bake some cookies. Not only will you start feeling better very soon, but you’ll also have a batch of delicious chocolate-chip cookies to eat that evening. Invite a couple of friends over and share the happiness with them too – it will make you feel even better.
Set the mood
Sometimes it’s not about the company or about sharing food, but about the cooking process and how it makes you feel. You can get the ingredients you need for a special dish, turn off your phone, play your favourite music and start cooking. Sometimes you will feel like going wild, singing Queen and dancing while you’re rinsing tomatoes, and some other times, you will put on soothing music, light a few candles, and take your sweet time with chopping, coiling, and baking. Whatever you choose to do, remember that the process of preparing food can brighten your mood and make you feel much better.
Therapeutic power of cooking
Psychologists often recommend their patients who struggle with depression to take up cooking, as it is a form of “behavioural activation”. It’s an activity that requires you to act and move, and it gives you a goal which you should accomplish. When you take time to prepare a meal, you have a feeling that you’ve accomplished something, and when you share the food you’ve prepared with others, it can make you feel even better. What is more, you will start feeling more confident because you’ve mastered a useful skill.
Cooking is one of those activities where multitasking isn’t appreciated. Yes, it’s great to keep one eye on the boiling water while you’re chopping veggies, but it can also be a disaster. You need to pay special attention to each and every task: washing the ingredients, cutting them, their colour, texture, and taste, and only when you’re done with it should you move to the second task. Mindful cooking is a wonderful way to practice patience and concentration, and it will help you do the same in other daily tasks too.
Sometimes the thought of doing the dishes after cooking can discourage you from cooking altogether, since you can get dispirited by the amount of dishes you have to wash. This is why it’s good to have a strategy: when it comes to smaller things like knives, chopping boards, or small bowls, you might simply rinse them when you’re done with them, before you finish cooking. For the bigger stuff, you can use the dishwasher. Some modern ones, such as the Maytag dishwashers, can even be programmed to delay washing until it’s convenient for you. Knowing that you don’t have a mountain of dishes to take care of afterwards makes cooking much more enjoyable.
Cooking is a wonderful way to explore, improvise, and get creative with your food. You can try new spices, new veggies, and learn to prepare meat and pasta in many different ways. It is a way to be in control of your diet and a lovely way to relax after a long and stressful day at work.