Just like physical ailments, mental health issues are real and can dramatically affect your life and happiness. Sometimes, they are serious issues that lead to some type of intervention. And, sometimes, they are simply regular stresses and anxieties of life that we all deal with. No matter what the case is, know that your mental health is worth paying attention to and caring for with everything you’ve got. I know from experience that allowing imbalance to slip in can change the course of your whole life. Check in with yourself regularly to be aware of where your mind is and where it’s going.
Today, I want to discuss a simple strategy for slowing down and focusing on something that helps keep a mental health balance. Similar to doing art, cooking and working with food has a way of calming our nerves and balancing our emotions. I know, it’s kind of silly, but, for whatever reason, it seems to work. When you spend time cooking, you are creating something that literally gives you life. This fact alone makes it a perfect activity when you feel down or are struggling with difficult things. Let’s take a look at a few mental health benefits of cooking.
If you are looking for a way to improve your mental health, wake up your creative side. Moving your hands in motion and following the set steps of a recipe are the makings of self and creative expression. I know that most people might not think this about food, but there is a distinct art to preparing, presenting, and eating our food. It is when we don’t consider how life-giving it is that we can take it for granted. I recommend putting thought and gratitude behind every meal. Make cooking and eating a sacred creative expression that you honor and will remember. Some people might enjoy taking cooking or bakery classes to expand their skills in this area. Just do what makes you feel alive and happy.
I believe that the emotion lift happens when we cook or bake because we have set an intention to follow through with a goal. The simple act of finishing something and being proud of it helps us to feel connected to ourselves and our gifts. In the case of cooking, you also have the opportunity to cook for other people and bring them joy and pleasure. Consider how elated and full of joy people are around the holidays when everyone has spent extra time preparing their favorite dishes. Understand, this feeling doesn’t have to show up for just special occasions.
Connect with Others
Baking and cooking don’t have to be done alone. In fact, cooking with others, especially children, offers a dynamic way to share ideas, feelings, and to simply spend time together. I love to get in the kitchen with my kids to create something we have never attempted. And we also love to make the old standards. We’ve even been known to have our own cooking contests and ingredient challenges. The act of making it fun and connecting with others helps to lighten the stress and burdens that life can present.
It Has a Reward
The feel-good factor of cooking for ourselves and other people is one of the best reasons to learn to cook. Furthermore, there is always something to look forward to or a reward when we take the time to cook something delicious. I remember making jambalaya with my mom as a kid. It took us hours to make the sauce and prepare all the ingredients. Though it took so long, I recall feeling so proud and happy when I finally got to taste what we had created. It was the most delicious dish I had ever tasted! To some women, that type of reward is everything and can help them to feel purpose and clarity about themselves. So, I say, get cooking to boost your mental health! Who knows, you just might find a new passion that balances not only your mental health but your life!