How Cooking Can Be a Therapeutic Retreat

December 30, 2020

How Cooking Can Be a Therapeutic Retreat from Your Day of Zooms and Not Going Anywhere

Cooking isn’t just about sustenance anymore. It’s also about stepping back from the hustle and bustle of life and relieving the stress it brings. It becomes more crucial now, with a worldwide pandemic leaving people little choice but to stay home more, with seemingly every day revolving around work, Zoom meetings, house chores, and hoping against hope that things get back to normal soon. Cooking, thankfully, has de-stressing powers, in part because it’s an act of mindfulness, says Philadelphia Inquirer food editor Jamila Robinson.

“The act of concentration and focus is really important,” explains Robinson, who swears by cooking as a stress buster. “It’s an act of mindfulness. You have to breathe through it. You have to take care. You can’t just drift off and mince parsley, if you want to keep your fingers.”

In other words, cooking is a diversion, a means to take your mind off of the monotony and stress of your daily Zoom-dominated routine. On top of that, cooking – and its close cousin, baking – is a way to pass the time, while still feeling productive. And in this time of uncertainty, the ability to stay productive brings a sense of accomplishment and some feel-good vibes along with it.

What's more, studies suggest that cooking is therapeutic because of an interplay of factors that address psychological wellbeing. Apart from being a welcome distraction, cooking brings about feelings of autonomy that, in turn, result in a sense of purpose. It also exposes you to the smell and visual appeal of food, and this exposure is said to stimulate the neurobiological pathways that promote well-being. It's no surprise then that some psychologists are prescribing cooking therapy as a way to improve mental health, and that more people are spending time in the kitchen during this pandemic.

But for cooking to truly be relaxing, you might have to keep things simple, especially if you’re still finding your way around the kitchen. A great way to do this is by using multifunctional appliances that will save you time and effort. Modern rice cookers, in particular, are most useful as they aren’t just for cooking rice. Nowadays, the humble rice cooker is so advanced that it boasts a variety of settings and technologies that makes preparing food as easy as pressing or turning a button. Even better, you can use it to cook other food, like whole grains, no-bake mac ‘n’ cheese, and even fall-off-the-bone ribs (season and sear the ribs, then put them in the rice cooker together with beer, stock, and barbecue sauce, and cook for an hour).

Another kitchen appliance that would make your time in the kitchen a breeze is a food processor, which you can use to fine-slice, grate, and shred large batches of vegetables and even nuts and some fruits. Something like the George Foreman grill can prove useful, too, especially if you and your family are into sandwiches and burgers. Then, once you've got everything you need in the kitchen, cooking is guaranteed to give you the respite you need after yet another Zoom meeting.

And to make you feel even better, check out My Kitchen! My Rules! for easy-to-follow recipes for a much-deserved tasty treat. Just browse the blog and you'll surely find something you'll love, from Peanut Butter Kisses to Sausage Fa-La-La Balls and Smothered Avocado Chicken.

Good luck, and happy cooking!

exclusively written for By Karen Dunn


REALTOR®. Author. Coach. Keynote speaker. Leigh Brown is laser-focused on inspiring people to be better, strive for more, and to take the reins and lead!

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