For a parent, cooking can be very stressful. You may have just come home from a long day of work to hungry eyes and then remember you forgot to prepare something ahead of time. So now you have to think of something quick and easy to prepare for your family. So the idea of cooking for stress relief has never even crossed your mind, am I right? But maybe you need to look at this in a different way and this contributed post has some reasons that might just open your eyes. 

cooking

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If you look up different ways to de-stress on the Internet, you will be met with a whole host of suggestions, from yoga to breathing exercises. But, what about cooking? You may think that cooking is a chore and that there is nothing relaxing about it. However, it is time to look at cooking from a fresh perspective. Read on to discover the different reasons why cooking is the ultimate stress reliever.

It is a form of therapy

Firstly, there have been many mental health experts that have stated that cooking helps with relieving anxiety and depression, as well as the manifestations that tend to come from this, for example, eating disorders. A lot of mental health clinics have even started to use cooking as a form of behavioral therapy, very much like art therapy or music therapy. This is because cooking has a meditative feel to it. You focus on one thing, and this helps to relax the mind and ease any stress that you have been experiencing.

It gives you a sense of accomplishment

After all, if you are to put together a meal that tastes amazing, you need to be present and engaged. This is what is known as behavioral activation. You need to make snap judgments, you need to taste, you need to add and subtract heat. You can’t just stare into space and think negative thoughts. Instead, a mindful and positive activity is what you will concentrate on. Plus, it is also worth noting that you will feel a great sense of pride and achievement once you have cooked a dish. Also, there is something about losing yourself in the process of cooking that is healing and gives a sense of personal growth.

It can improve your diet

Aside from the fact that the act of cooking itself is therapeutic, you also need to consider what this will lead to. The most obvious benefit in this regard is an improved diet. Diet and mental well being go hand-in-hand. There have been a number of different studies that have proven the link between a healthier diet and higher levels of the happiness hormone, medically known as serotonin.

Don’t forget to properly equip yourself

For cooking to be stress-free and fun, you do need to make sure that your kitchen is properly equipped. You need all of the right cooking utensils and pots and pans. When you are buying a pan like a stovetop grill pan you need to make sure it is non-stick, otherwise, you will only end up being incredibly frustrated.

As you can see, there are many different ways that cooking can benefit you and help to reduce stress. Nevertheless, for this to be the case, you do need to approach cooking as something fun to do, rather than being a task you must carry out. Plus, you need to have all of the right utensils and cooking equipment so that cooking is easy rather than a challenge!

Conclusion

Mother and daughter baking together

I love to cook! But there are times when I am too tired from my meds or from other things and getting a big meal(especially on holidays) or any meal done for my mom can be difficult. But when I have the time and I do get to cook for my family it that sense of accomplishment that makes me feel so good.

For me, cooking is like art, and art is a form of therapy. Cooking works in the same way. You have control over your cooking canvas and that sense of control is very therapeutic. Not to mention when the food is done, the smile on everyone’s faces makes it all worthwhile.

Also, being that I am a mom I find great joy from the food choices I make for my children. When I make smart healthy choices I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that I am doing the right thing for my family. It makes me work harder as I cook. 

The last tip is very important though. If you do not have the right equipment, cooking can be very stressful. Like when your non-stick pans need replacing, that is a must. 

I like to use time cooking as not only therapy for myself but for my children. Take time every week to have cooking sessions with your children. You can cook and talk about things that may be bothering your children. You and your partner can have cooking sessions once a week for a date night. This will be a great way to save money and open up communication. 

Cooking provides many opportunities to let your creative juices flow and distract you from your crazy stressful day. Try a new recipe, bake a new dessert! Spend some time in the kitchen with your family and let cooking be your therapy.

Do you use cooking as a de-stressor? I would love what you like to cook when you feel stressed, please share your thoughts below!

22 thoughts on “Cooking for Stress Relief – Is it Really Possible?”

  1. Hello,

    I totally agree that using cooking time as an opportunity for communication with the children is extremely important. Many times, if the children are having challenges, the time you spend cooking together will allow for some One on one or group discussions, especially if they are teenagers.

    Once a child hits age 13 – look out! From 13 to 20 are the “crazy years” where hormonal changes render your child a completely different person. Which is why cooking together is so important. When your child is in their teen years, the lines of communication MUST be kept open!

    Great post…

    1. Hi Howard,
      I agree once the teenage years hit the children can change. Starting young can help when though because my son is fifteen and he still loves to cook with me and spend time talking and doing things together. Like you said, you must keep the lines of communication open! Thanks for the comment!

  2. I agree with the non-stick pans. I could use a couple right now myself! I find cooking to be a kind of stress relief as well. But like you sometimes I am just too tired and would love to have somebody else cook for me. Maybe one day…

    1. Hehe, it is almost time for me to get another set myself. I think all moms need a break from cooking and it is nice when someone cooks for us as well. I wouldn’t mind a personal chef myself, maybe one day 🙂

  3. I enjoyed this blog. I do not cook however I would like to know a bit about its therapeutic properties. Nice Blog again!!

    1. Hi Raymond,
      Though you do not cook, it doesn’t mean it may not benefit you one day. Maybe you could take a class knowing it could help you with stress and your health, you never know…

  4. I agree! Cooking can be a therapeutic process and getting my mind off certain things. It’s also an opportunity for me to bond with my teenage daughter who just turned 13. I’d get her to help prep some of the food while I cook. During that time, we talk about all kinds of things. Also, cooking at home is much more healthier and more economical too!

    1. Hi Yvonne,
      I agree cooking at home is much healthier and more economical. You know what you put into your food and you can control things like salt and sugar. You save money and you can cater to your families needs much easier. I love how boding allows you to bond with your children and teaching them to cook at a young age makes them much more independent. Thanks for the comment!

  5. I like the idea of this, but you’d have to really enjoy cooking. For me, it won’t help my diet… I’m more inclined to bake sweet stuff for therapy purposes. I’m a chocoholic.

    1. Baking actually has the same effect, it is still therapeutic in the way that it distracts you from whatever may be stressing you. The only difference is you may be more tempted to make items that are less healthy for you. Dark chocolate is great for you in moderation and if you found recipes that wouldn’t be so bad for your waistline there is nothing wrong with baking. You just have to make sure you think about your health. I understand not everyone likes to cook but for those who know how and want to, cooking does distract you from stress.

  6. The idea of cooking for more than yourself I think is what drains so many people… it’s been a long day, and for even the people who love to cook, it gets stressful. I like that besides yoga, and breathing exercises you can release stress by cooking. Behavioral therapy really? Didn’t think of that till now. I have de-stressed lately. After a long day at work, I actually turn to cooking, even if it’s the simplest thing like eggs it helps me unwind. Thanks for this share!

    1. Hi Michael,
      The idea of cooking when you are already tired can be stressful but for me, it is not cooking that stresses me it is the fact that I have no energy. I love to cook and I love to cook and bake for others but if you are in pain or sick or tired, no matter what the task, you would be stressed to perform. I think the real therapy is in the distraction. Cooking, yoga, exercise, meditation, and art, what do they all have in common? They are a distraction from what stresses you. Taking your mind off of stress helps you get relief. Stress begins in the mind and letting it control your mind makes it worse(physically and psychologically) but finding ways to push it out of your mind helps you get relief. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Yes, if we can set aside the time for the kids to cook alongside us, it really is a great chance for bonding, killing two birds with one stone! I should mindfully look for more opportunities to do that.

    1. Hi Joo,
      Yes, bonding with our children is sooo important and cooking provides a great opportunity for this. You can definitely find some opportunities to this. I find weekends are easiest for me and my children and early mornings. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Hi Melissa,, This is a great post. It is lovely to hear when people, especially men, love to cook. Wish my husband had taken to cooking as it would have helped me tremendously. Fortunately I loved cooking. Have found that now I am on my own I cook in bulk and freeze which gives me time to do other great things. Still love cooking. Always wished I had those lovely cooking pots and all the gadgets too.

    1. Hi Jill,
      It is great when husbands take to cooking. My husband isn’t great at it but he will do all he can. He definitely will do the dishes for me. Freezing is a great idea especially when you freeze in the single containers so you can warm them up as you need them. But yes the pots and gadgets are great to have. Thanks for the comment!

  9. I think this is a very helpful and interesting article. I think having a hobby like cooking as an outlet is a great way to relieve stress and tension. I like your suggestion about the non-stick pans. I have some that I got recently, but they have become stained and I can’t get them clean, so I am frustrated and disappointed. I will have a look at your recommendations for a better option. Thank you.

    1. Hi Ruth,
      I hate that about non-stick pans, they are like computers you have to replace them after so many years of use, LOL. I am glad you found the article useful and I hope you get some better pans, hehe.

  10. Great read Melissa, cooking for stress relief is so true. I love cooking and love to try new recipes with new twists and creativity. It is really a therapy but not for everyone, only for those who love cooking. I love your articles always, and this one is also superb. I really appreciate your good work, you must be a great knowledgeable person. This article is so true for me and for my sister also as she is also a great cook and love cooking.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Just like any hobby, only those who enjoy cooking will get therapy from it. I don’t like sewing and so I would not be able to use it to distract me from stress bit for those who do like it, it is very therapeutic. I too love trying different recipes and adding my own spin and I think that adds to the accomplishment. When you are in control of something it gives you a sense of relief. That is why cooking, just like other hobbies, is a stress relief. So I am glad you and your sister can find relief in your joy for cooking. Thanks for the comment!

  11. Hi Melissa, this is so true on so many levels! I must admit that for me, the relaxation part comes from being allowed to shoo my kids away from the kitchen when I’m busy in there… I get a little bit of “me-time”! And I love the fact that it stimulates all the senses, smell, vision and touch, so cooking helps me reconnect, be more in the present and feel more grounded… Great post, keep cooking and writing, please!

    1. Hi Isabel,
      It is always nice to hear from a mother who you can relate to and it is funny reading how you shoo your kids. It is so true cooking can be a time to get away and the mention of it stimulating your senses is so true. There should be a mindful cooking class where you actually spend time paying attention to those things because it is so relaxing. I love certain smells over the other and feeling dough between your hands can be so rewarding but then again I love to cook and bake. I am glad you enjoyed the post and you too continue to cook and I will do the same. 🙂

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