Cooking can be as easy as making toast and frying some eggs sunny side-up, but it can also require more detailed steps that call for discipline and dexterity.
All of these steps make cooking a rewarding task that can do wonders for your mental health, especially when you do it to benefit other people.
COOKING CAN BOOST YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
When people compliment your cooking, you instinctively bask with confidence in your abilities. Julie Ohana, a licensed masters clinical social worker and culinary art therapist, says:
“There’s a tremendous amount of confidence-boosting and self-esteem boosting, performing an act like cooking for others. And that’s part of what lends itself to those psychological effects about being able to do something that you feel really good about.”
COOKING IS NURTURING
Like most other charitable acts, cooking for others is a form of altruism, which bestows you with happiness and a sense of connection to others. There's also a sense of nurturing obtained from cooking, and ultimately providing sustenance, in the form of food, for someone else, whether they are family or otherwise.
Michal AviShai, a culinary arts therapist, explains:
“Giving to others fills us in so many ways, and even more so when it’s cooking because feeding fulfills a survival need, and so our feeling of fulfillment comes not only from the good of the act of giving, but also the fact that we have ‘helped’ in some very primal way. We have given fuel.”
Ultimately, cooking for others will promote trust, belonging, closeness, and intimacy, ultimately increasing your happiness, reducing depression, and a positive overall wellbeing.
COOKING CAN STRENGTHEN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS
Cooking can help you bond better with others, regardless of the nature of your relationship with them. Such a feeling of connection promotes positivity and ultimately, longevity.
Psychologists say cooking is an "intimate" activity that when done for others, conveys your readiness to support them. Ayelet Barak Nahum, culinary art therapist with a Ph.D. from the Bob Chapell School of Social work at the Tel Aviv University, says:
“Cooking for others creates and affirms a primary bond. It can therefore be a very fulfilling and meaningful deed. It can provide a means for social acceptance and create a feeling of belonging to a community.”
COOKING IS A FORM OF SELF-CARE
Mindful cooking can be a form of self-care so even if you are not doing it for anyone, you are still going to be rewarded with a sense of fulfillment. Nedra Shield, a licensed independent clinical social worker at the Northampton Center for Couples Therapy, explains that cooking nourishing meals will not only promote healthy eating but also sends your subconscious a message that you are important.
COOKING TEACHES MINDFULNESS
You don't have to be a professional chef to understand that cooking requires discipline. Time spent too far from the kitchen during cooking can cause your food to burn or your gravy to spill over, creating a mess that may just be regarded as punishment for your being distracted.
This makes cooking a task that requires mindfulness, which is highly beneficial to your mental health.
If you need reasons to cook more, there you have them! Cooking is great for your general wellbeing; aside from promoting healthy eating, it'll do wonders for your mental health.
Now, all you have to do is whip out your favorite recipes and start cooking — remember that the process is just as important as the ultimate results!