How Learning To Cook Can Reduce Stress

Stress is one of life’s least pleasant experiences. Over 40 million people suffer from chronic stress issues in the U.S., alone. From Generalized Anxiety Disorder to the everyday pressures of modern life, stress-related psychological disturbances are the most commonly diagnosed form of mental illness. In a world where access to mental health resources is typically limited, it’s good to know there is a source of relief right in your own home: cooking therapy!

 

Eat to Live, Live to Cook

Christy Matta, a psychological health clinician for over 20 years, writes that Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is an effective way to deal with chronic stress. This treatment is all about learning skills that you can apply in your life on a daily basis, and the role these ritualistic routines play in feeling good in the face of mental illness. In this way, learning to cook can be thought of as kitchen therapy. The daily routine of preparing a meal focuses your attention on a task that you enjoy, freeing your mind from doubt and panic reactions that lead to stress.

 

The Olfactory Component

Kitchen therapy doesn’t end with simple routines. There are powerful psychological effects associated with scent, including the ability to trigger fond memories with vivid clarity. The scent of a food you love can reduce stress by bringing you back to a time when you felt calm. In this way, cooking therapy can serve as an excellent, drug-free means of easing both long-term chronic stress and spot-treating breakthrough panic issues.

 

Culinary Creativity to Break the Cycle

Stress is a self-perpetuating problem. The more of it you have, the more likely you are to feel disconnected from the things in life which bring you joy. Of course, this leads to further stress which compounds the initial problem. Cooking therapy is a valuable way to introduce an avenue of creativity into your life which can help break this cycle. While you may not feel much like doing the things you love in times of anxiety, everyone needs to eat. Introducing new flavors and techniques to your culinary repertoire is what kitchen therapy is all about.

 

Putting it All in the Pan

Chronic stress has many deleterious effects on your life. Cooking therapy can help to mitigate these effects by introducing healthy routines in your day that rely on skill building. The power of smell to improve your frame of mind without having to rely on drugs is built into the cooking process. Creativity in the kitchen can serve as a means to break the self-perpetuating cycle of stress. You can create positive changes that lead to less stress, and kitchen therapy can help.