In previous blog posts we've discussed the merits of home-cooking, from saving money to eating healthier. Today, we're focusing specifically on the mental health benefits of cooking at home. You might have heard of music therapy or drama therapy, but did you know that culinary therapy is on the rise? Some counsellors around the world are recommending cooking as a therapy tool for those who suffer from depression and anxiety among other mental health issues. In this article, we'll be sharing our top six mental health benefits of cooking.
Top 6 Mental Health Benefits of Cooking
1. A Healthy Routine
When it comes to protecting your mental health, it's important to have a solid routine. Without healthy structure, it can be easy to lose motivation or to feel stressed out by constant decision-making. Building a routine makes life a little less unpredictable. This helps by reducing your stress and therefore bolstering your mental health. One of the mental health benefits of cooking is that it forms part of a healthy routine.
Cooking regularly, besides yielding tasty results, forces you to get organised. Once you get into the habit of home cooking, you will be able to keep track of the ingredients you have in the house. You will naturally build up a routine of planning your meals according to the ingredients you have, and stocking up at the shops when you need more.
If you aren't able to get to the supermarket easily or regularly, don't worry. It is often more convenient to buy your groceries online and get them delivered to your home. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this process, we have written a helpful guide to online grocery shopping.
2. Social Connection
Loneliness is one of the biggest risks to good mental (and physical) health. Elderly people are especially prone to feeling lonely or isolated. According to a 2014 study, those who suffer from loneliness are more likely to develop conditions like dementia. Lonely people also suffer disproportionately from mental health conditions. Therefore, it is important as we get older to find ways to connect with our loved ones.
One of the benefits of home cooking is that it brings people together. Eating together with friends and family can give everyone involved a sense of community and security. Furthermore, involving your loved ones in the cooking process can offer extra benefits. Cooking in a group can foster good communication and give you quality time with the people you care about. All of these things come together to improve your overall mental health.
3. A Creative Boost
Creative activities like drawing, painting, and writing have been linked to better mental health. Research has found that creativity can lift your mood, give you a feeling of empowerment, and help you calm your mind by shifting focus away from worrying thoughts. You may not think of cooking in the same category as these other artistic pursuits, but think again. Finding and perfecting your favourite recipes can definitely be a creative activity. The more you cook, the more you will discover. From pairing new ingredients to trying out new techniques, you can reap the creative benefits of cooking.
Mental heath is undeniably linked to physical health. We all know the importance of a healthy, balanced diet. By cooking your own food at home, you can take full control over the quality of your diet. Cooking high-protein foods like salmon can boost your body's production of serotonin, a natural mood stabiliser which helps to reduce depression and regulate anxiety.
What's more, a 2014 study found that cooking dinner 6-7 times per week was associated with consuming fewer calories and less fat. As our bodies become healthier, our minds can follow.
5. Stress Busting
Some people may think of cooking as a chore. On the other hand, lots of people see cooking as a rewarding experience. The physical processes of cooking, such as chopping and stirring, demand your attention. This allows you to put your focus entirely on the task at hand, which could be especially helpful if you are dealing with stress. This is one of the best short-term benefits of cooking. It requires you to slow down and take your mind off the stresses of everyday life.
6. Sense of Accomplishment
Mental health professionals often recommend setting achievable goals with positive rewards. Whether you are struggling with your mental health or not, preparing a meal is a great short-term goal to work towards. Watching your ingredients come together to form something healthy and delicious is very rewarding. The sense of accomplishment that cooking can give you is a big boost to self esteem.
Staying Safe in the Kitchen
Now that you know all the mental health benefits of cooking at home, you might want to jump straight into the kitchen. However, it's important to remember that the kitchen can present several hazards. For more information on staying safe while you cook, why not read our top 5 kitchen safety tips?
All in all, if you are at all concerned about your safety or independence at home, it might be time to consider a pendant alarm. Our 24 hour service means you can call for help whenever you need it with just the touch of a button. To find out how we can give you and your loved ones peace of mind, you can read our in-depth guide to the Lifeline personal alarm service or give us a call on 0800 999 0400. Our friendly Customer Service team is available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 11th October 2021 to reflect current information.