One of the best ways to improve your mental health after a depressive episode or an anxiety attack is cooking yummy, comforting foods. So, it’s understandable that cooking is one of the best hobbies you can have to maintain a healthy lifestyle!
It’s good for you physically because you know exactly what’s going inside your tummy. Junk foods and take-out foods are ridiculously high in sugar and sodium. It’s awful for your overall health and leads to diseases like diabetes and cancer. At least when you cook, you can control the amount of salt and sugar you eat. Also, it’s a lot cheaper to cook at home than to buy stuff outside!
Cooking is also good for mental health because it leaves you feeling accomplished. Who wouldn’t want to be treated to a tasty meal after a few hours of hard work? Who doesn’t love seeing the people they love eating the food they make? If you haven’t tried cooking as a mental health retreat yet, then we highly recommend you do so! Cooking is an acceptable activity for kids, teenagers, and adults alike!
Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Start Simple
If you’re a newbie to cooking, then you definitely don’t want to set your sights too high. Remember, some dishes take years for even the most skillful chefs to master. You’re only going to set yourself up for failure and disappointment if you try and cook a dish that’s way past your comfort zone, and that’ll demotivate you pretty quickly.
Nobody expects an amateur cook to master beef wellington or a chocolate souffle from the get-go!
Instead, start by mastering the simple dishes first before trying something new. Think of dishes like spaghetti carbonara, pizza Margherita, or egg fried rice. They don’t take a lot of effort, but the results are super tasty!
Additionally, don’t just jump in and do everything from scratch. Starting with store-bought ingredients like pasta, pizza dough, stocks, and canned fruits and vegetables is totally fine. What matters is that you have everything you need to make the meal.
Slow and steady wins the race!
2. Be Thorough and Mindful
There’s just something about getting lost in the cooking process that’s so peaceful. Instead of thinking of worrisome thoughts, grating sounds, and burdensome problems, all you think about is the sizzling sounds of garlic, the smell of soup bubbling on the stove, the enticing aroma of a roast in the oven, and more.
One thing you can do to be more thorough is to practice mise en place. This is a French culinary technique that has you preparing all of your ingredients, chopped and portioned and all, in one place before you finally start cooking. With mise en place, you shouldn’t be in a rush—you just focus on the next ingredient you need to prepare.
Another thing that isn’t exactly cooking is cleaning up as you go. Have you ever enjoyed a scrumptious meal, only to have your mood dampened by the dishes you have to clean up afterward? That’s not going to happen if you clean as you go! While something is sauteing or simmering on the stove, wash up the dishes and other kitchen essentials so you have fewer things to worry about afterward.
3. Include Loved Ones
The best thing about cooking is that you can share your results with everyone! Who could ever say no to food, after all? And you just feel so great when the food you cook ends up being enjoyed by the people you love!
One thing you can do is have date nights at home with your significant other. Instead of shelling out a lot of money to go to a fancy restaurant, you can make your own fancy dinner at home. The two of you can head to the grocery store together, plan out what you want to eat for your date, and then have lots of fun cooking together. It’s a bonding experience that’ll strengthen your relationship!
Another thing you can do is give away extras of food you make to your family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues. You can give them as birthday presents, graduation gifts, or even just because you thought of them. It’s a nice little surprise that both of you can enjoy.