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Cooking Up Therapy: Mental Health in the Kitchen

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It may sound like a chore at first, and it is if you have a lot to do in the day, but it can also be a form of therapy. You can get lost in the flavors while you make conscious efforts to make it all work. Cooking is one of the activities wherein you can see the end product of what you have created. What’s more, is that you can actually taste it. There is a satisfaction to be had in being able to produce something with your own two hands. At the same time, you would be learning.

The process of gaining culinary skills as a form of art is akin to painting a canvas or sculpting an image. Cooks are left to their own devices to make do with what they can and make their vision a reality. As a result, it helps with their self-esteem and their overall mental and physical well-being. This sort of activity keeps them on their feet with their minds occupied. Research also suggests that cooking itself reinforces the desire to repeat the activity.

Delightful Creations

Although there are different styles and cooking methods, they all equally contribute to the therapeutic effects of cooking. Some prefer to follow instructions while others bask in their creativity. Either one has a varying effect on their brain function.

For instance, someone following instructions to the T can meet their urges of being exact in their method. On the other hand, a person adding ingredients on a whim will be able to light up the cognitive parts of their brain as it affects problem-solving skills and creativity.

At the same time, it also helps reduce the stress a person might accumulate during the day or week. It can get them to unwind from a long day of work or their other duties. There will be changes in their thought process, especially if they focus solely on producing dishes. Moreover, there is also the pleasure in plating. They can be as creative as they wish to be.

Busy Work for the Idle

Keeping occupied can reduce episodes of anxiety and panic. Developing culinary skills takes time, patience, and determination. By focusing on an activity, thought spirals are avoided. They will no longer be consumed by think traps, which are known to result in delusions.

People who fall into think traps are unable to identify negative loops of thoughts. Whereas those learning recipes or cooking on a whim will adapt an added ability of logical problem solving, which, in turn, can be applied to getting themselves out of think traps.

Although there are benefits to being philosophical at times, your mind can also be your greatest enemy. Not everyone thinks in the same way, and some people are more affected by negativity than others. Being optimistic and realistic does not come naturally for everyone, and neither is the ability to figure out how to stay busy.

As those cooking in the kitchen become invested in their creation and methods, they can have a go-to activity whenever things get dull. Eventually, the chore becomes a hobby.

Learning At Any Age

Cooking does not discriminate against anyone based on their age. Practically everyone at any point in their life can work in the kitchen. You have probably seen the kids on Masterchef Junior preparing gourmet dishes while seasoned sushi chefs own and manage their restaurants until they can no longer do so. Even hawkers in Singapore still serve their dishes as a senior because there is no retirement age.

Anyone can learn how to cook, and anybody can cook at any age. For instance, a senior with a home health aide can experience the therapeutic benefits of being in the kitchen. As mentioned earlier, it will keep them occupied, on their feet, and free from harmful thoughts.

There are joys in learning something new and being able to create something. It can even give some seniors a purpose. Being occupied with activities is one of the most important things for someone hanging on to the beauty in life, and creating a delicious dish could be one of them.

You might have already seen these effects in chefs or even in-home cooks. Some become consumed with their duties to serve the best possible dish or maybe even creatively make leftovers appealing to everyone in the household. Next time, you can observe your thoughts while you are cooking. Maybe you will notice the shifts in thought from the activity you were occupied in before to when you started working in the kitchen. You might even feel a certain satisfaction once you sit down to eat your creation.

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