A hobby that stimulates your creativity and engages your focus has consistently shown to be advantageous to your mental health by reducing depression, stress, anxiety and boosting your mood. Hobbies help cultivate a sense of identity that is often lost during emotional distress and provide the tools to balance our responsibilities with our pleasures. Many individuals turn to cooking as their therapeutic outlet. The Wall Street Journal recently explored this creative hobby and how it serves as a sanctuary for many struggling with emotional and mental health issues.
Cooking and baking takes our whole attention and forces us to be mindful of what we are doing at the moment instead of stressing about the things we have little to no control over. The smell of a delicious cherry pie baking in the oven or fresh homemade stew cooking on the stove stimulates our senses and boosts our mood. While cooking for ourselves is advantageous alone, sharing our hobby with others by giving away special treats or offering a meal in times of need, in turn makes us happier, more confident and less stressed.
Our mood and mental state are directly connected to what we put in our body, and cooking our own food ensures we get the proper nutrients to remain emotionally and mentally healthy. Preparing foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids and low in sugar may help fight off mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. If you’re new to the kitchen and cooking a full meal seems overwhelming, healthy smoothies or juices are a great place to start. It is easy to get creative with a smoothie recipe and include vegetables, fruits and seeds that you never would have thought, while still tasting delicious. Brookhaven Retreat’s registered dietitian holds regular juicing and smoothie classes that explore unique and healthy recipes.
These classes also serve as an opportunity for women to socialize with each other and bond over their shared interest in culinary arts. For many women, this is the first step in coming out of the self-isolation they created due to their mental health and emotional issues. Nurturing our social wellness is one of the most key components in creating a healthy and enjoyable life.
With the freezing temperatures, delicious seasonal ingredients and various dinner parties and holiday gatherings, the winter is the perfect time to try out this new hobby. Take a break from the daily stressors and create your own sanctuary in the kitchen.