Cooking – a free therapy?

If you’d make a list of things that are most important to you in life, what would you put on it? Your family? Friends? Car? Favourite book? Sunsets in late autumn? Smell of roses? Van Gogh’s The Starry Night?

When creating lists like this, we (at least people of developed and better off parts of the world) often neglect things that are most essential for our survival, like access to drinking water and food. We take them for granted, as they are available to us no matter what.

I was thinking the other day and despite not being super passionate about it, I would consider putting cooking on my list. Cooking has been around for awhile now. Being one of the oldest crafts of our species it also, most probably, played an important part in our evolution. In cooked food nutrients are more accessible. Our ancestors could so dedicate less time to foraging and more to other things, such as socialising.

Today cooking is a passion, art, just a pastime activity or even a job. Yet inhabitants of more developed countries on average dedicate less time to cooking as they used to do. People either dine out or treat themselves with fast’n’easy pre-prepared food. And who could blame them (us)? It’s the pace of contemporary life that dictates such behaviour, right? [1][2]

In a way, that is correct. But then, we all have a choice and we opt for the easy way out. It’s all about priorities, so why not put cooking on your agenda instead of spending time behind screens? By cooking ourselves we can save money and time. This way we also have better control over what we eat. Cooking at home is a perfect way to improve our health and change our impact on the environment, all in one go. [3]

There is, however, another positive side to cooking. Our well being can not only improve due to carefully selected and healthier ingredients. The process of creating a dish can have an impact on us as well. As it happens, cooking is a quick fix of happiness.

While preparing a meal we tend to focus on that only, we become more mindful. Nothing else matters – past regrets and future worries escape our mind for a while and we end up being less stressed. We enjoy the moment more and on the long run life itself. Moreover, cooking can sparkle creativity by trying out new recipes or creating new ones ourselves. If we choose to cook in pairs or even groups it can also enhance cooperation and communication between cooking buddies. Last but not least, preparing a meal is good for morale. We set a goal, which we accomplish (more or less) with ease, boosting our self-esteem. [4]

It is no surprise that cooking is being used more and more as therapy to treat mental health problems. [5][6]

I don’t know about you but after reading articles and writing this one I feel like baking something. Don’t you just love the feeling of dough between your fingers?

Written by: Aljaž



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