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MENTAL HEALTH | Cooking as a Therapeutic Way to Cope with Stress

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It’s not surprising at all that Cooking can relieve stress. The therapeutic actions of cutting, chopping and stirring combined with the bright colors and interesting textures have long benefited my own mental health.

What could be a better way to relax and breathe during the current pandemic quarantine, especially when time currently isn’t as big a factor?

According to the Wall Street Journal, cooking or baking are often used as therapy tools for people suffering from anxiety or despression. Which will basically be all of us around the globe after another week or two in isolation! The WSJ says that cooking can “soothe stress, build self-esteem and curb negative thinking by focusing the mind on following a recipe.”

alison kent HOME KITCHEN design gather elevate compose home cook designer dinner entertain cooking love language feed sustain nourish family
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Try using ALL your senses when you cook – the smell of the orange and the texture as you peel it, the splashes of juice as you pull of a section and then taste it in your mouth.

psychology today

While access to food right now can be ridden with it’s own stresses, all the more reason to create a space in your kitchen and in mindfulness to benefit from the art and practice of cooking.

Dig into an old family recipe to re-ignite a connection to your past – and ancestors who perhaps also had to survive tough times.

psychology today
alison kent HOME KITCHEN design gather elevate compose home cook designer dinner entertain cooking love language feed sustain nourish family
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I thought I’d share my own cooking ritual with you. I know someone is saying as they read it “SHE HAS 90 MINS TO COOK DINNER?! I could never!”. The reality is no, I don’t have 90 mins just to spare in a day, but I have had at times all 4 kids at home and it’s just a way I’ve chosen to love them all. It often means I have to stay up later to finish work, or work weekends to catch up, but that’s ok. As a Mother, I often find myself taking one for the team! LOOOOL!

Alison’s TIPS to Cook with ZEN

  • Clean ahead. Start with a tidy, washed down workspace as a way to clear your mind and start fresh.
  • Prep! Bring the prep bowls, utensils, knives, boards etc you think you’ll need out; pre-wash vegetables and dry out meats; print out any recipes you’ll need… This will allow you to mentally be in one zone – prep or cook – at a time and not chaotically rushing all over the place.
  • Turn on a movie you’ve seen dozens of times (so you can watch it in your mind and not cut your finger off by looking at the screen LOL), or your favorite playlist. Set the mood for zen-time.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine, water or hot tea to sip soothingly as you do all your prep cutting/chopping.
  • Unless a gentle conversation across the kitchen island relaxes you while you’re working, make your Kitchen a “humans free” zone for an hour. I absolutely forbid Hubby to invade my space by clanging dishes from the dishwasher while I’m in my zen-zone! He can pour my wine, or stay out.
  • Keep some cut flowers or vases of useful herbs like parsley to brighten and cheer up your space.
  • You can try something new and still have zen – if it works out, great – if it doesn’t, who cares? Your family will still eat it LOL. Don’t be afraid of a recipe with lots of ingredients, just give yourself ample time. Our typical dinner for 4-6 includes a protein and 3 veg dishes, and I spend about 90 minutes (1 movie, and/or 2 glasses of wine LOL) prepping and cooking something fairly simple, but rich in flavors.

I’ve had enough dishes not completely turn out, that I tend not to sweat it any longer. Everyone still eats it – they have no clue it didn’t meet my random expectations! Having troubles thinking of things to cook with so many of your favorite ingredients not available mid-pandemic? You’d likely be amazing at what your pantry holds when you dig in. Here are a few other tips, as well.

Quarantine Eating during Coronavirus
Week One

Needing some food ideas / tips for this crazy, quarantine time-out?

It just feels strange writing that… But this is our world as of March 2020, I suppose. I’m very fortunate in general – I have a warm house to seclude in … READ MORE

Tips to Shop + Eat Efficiently During the Coronavirus Quarantine

That is the strangest title I’ve honestly ever written! But – so relevant. Not just for the current Coronavirus, but really any kind of local or global happening that could have a similar effect on our human way of life, bringing us to some sort of quarantine. BUT, fear NOT! I’ve got some tips for you … READ MORE

And in the end, it’s the feeling of having sustained people I love with food I made with my own hands that matters most. Cooking for others is a deeply rooted language of love.

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