It’s no secret that home cooking with fresh ingredients has a range of health benefits. However, exhaustion and stress from work can leave you resorting to take-away food or microwaveable meals that cause you to sacrifice proper nutrition for convenience.
While it can sometimes seem impossible to break out of this cycle, attempting to cook at home can provide you with the dual benefits of making you healthier and relieving stress.
In fact, cooking has been proven to be a therapeutic exercise that can be very enjoyable and rewarding at the same time. While it may seem like a chore right now, there are a variety of actionable steps you can take to make cooking a fun experience that you look forward to, rather than something you dread as a necessity to save money and improve your health.
The following will examine how you can use cooking to both reduce stress as well as improve your overall mood.
Learning to make your favourite dishes
Everyone loves food, but not everyone knows how to make their favourite dishes for themselves. Sometimes these dishes seem too complicated, but as long as you have the right kitchen equipment and the will to succeed, you can learn to make them expertly in the exact way you like.
If you don’t have much skill at cooking anything more complicated than a fried egg, then you might need some practice before you jump into more convoluted recipes. Start with quicker and easier HelloFresh dishes then move your way up to the more robust ones when your skill and confidence increases.
Furthermore, you can browse for some easy and quick recipes online – there are literally dishes that can be prepared in 5-10 minutes. The good news is that you don’t have to be a pro chef, and you only have to follow the instructions given.
Engrossing yourself in the aromas of cooking
Aromatherapy is one of the many ways that people manage their stress levels. The basic principles of this practice will apply when you surround yourself with the mouth-watering aromas of the spices and other ingredients used in cooking.
Note that there is no hard proof that aromas reduce stress, other than some preliminary studies suggesting that aromas lessen the stress hormone cortisol. At worst, pleasant aromas can produce a placebo effect that simply makes you more content, in turn making you feel less stressed.
Being creative in the kitchen
Of course, preparing food is as much an art form as it is a necessary activity, and the wide variety of celebrity chefs and cooking competitions out there are undeniable proof of this fact. However, you don’t need to be a professional chef to take pride in your kitchen creations and treat them like works of art.
Just like painting a portrait or chiselling a statue, looking upon something new that you’ve made will fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. When it comes to food, successfully cooking a dish that you previously thought was beyond your culinary ability can boost your mood and will make all of the hard work you put in worth it.
Everyone knows that art can be extremely therapeutic as a form of self-expression. There’s no reason why these principles can’t be true in the kitchen as they are in the art studio.
Bringing happiness to others
One of the best ways to feel happier and reduce your stress is to bring joy to others. Cooking for friends, family, or even a stranger and seeing their sincere gratitude and appreciation will bring you joy and make you feel more content.
This is why professional chefs can be some of the most satisfied people when it comes to their careers – because they see firsthand the value they have given to others in society. Being appreciated by another person, even for just one evening, will make you feel more content and less stressed overall.
Being good at something and getting praise for it
Many people are stressed with their jobs because they feel like just another cog in a machine that can be easily replaced. However, if you’re very good at a skill like cooking, and are regularly praised for it, you will undoubtedly have reduced levels of stress from your day job.
Distracting yourself with a habitual activity
Sometimes the best way to combat stress is to simply distract yourself with an activity that doesn’t leave you any time to think about the things that are causing it. For some people, these activities involve drugs and alcohol that can reduce stress momentarily but can easily lead to dependency and substance abuse down the road.
Instead of going down that path, try cooking at home instead. Cooking is a ritualistic activity that will distract you from stressful thoughts and produce a positive result.
Socialising and cooperating with others
For most people, cooking is not always going to be a solitary exercise but something that is enjoyed within a family or a group of friends. Since everyone needs to eat, cooking is one of the easiest activities to convince people to join you in.
Humans are social animals at heart, and sometimes being too isolated from others can make feelings of stress much more potent. Inviting friends and family over to cook with you makes the process easier and allows you to spend some quality time with those you care about.
Feeling healthier and happier
When you enjoy the health benefits of nutritious home cooking, you also experience an improved mood and reduced stress. While mental factors cause a lot of anxiety, your body’s biology also plays a role. Studies consistently show that healthier people tend to deal with stress more effectively than those who have unhealthy lifestyles and eating habits.
Having said that, we hope that this article will motivate you to start cooking. You will be healthier, eat better food and enjoy preparing food for people you love.