We’ll be honest with you: We spend a lot of time on our computers. Sure, we DIY our hearts out at every possible opportunity, but our jobs, like most people’s these days, have us sitting in front of our computers — a lot. That’s why it can be sort of therapeutic to cook dinner when we get home from work. We’re unplugged and creating something with our own two hands — something delicious. It’s a daily DIY that may go unnoticed, but it’s definitely beneficial to your psyche. Therapists are tapping into these benefits with cooking classes used to help treat people with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
The Wall Street Journal recently schooled us on the bountiful health benefits (mental and physical) of taking the time to cook, and they’re definitely enough motivation to think twice before ordering takeout.
1. Ease Anxiety: When you’re making a recipe, you’re focused on that one thing. Following the step-by-step process is what counselors say helps people to find respite and claim a bit of control and clarity over an otherwise chaotic life that can cause anxiety.
2. Helps to Manage Addiction: With their minds diverted from their stress and instead foused on the task of chopping veggies, teens with addiction were able to alleviate the stresses that lead to substance abuse.
3. Gives a Sense of Well-Being: Eating food that’s good for you makes your body feel good. Simple as that. But it makes you feel better to see that food prepared by your own two hands. If you grow your own food, you can get even more of that full-circle satisfaction.
4. Boosts Confidence: If you’ve ever baked a loaf of bread or a pizza, or even just chopped veggies for a salad, you know that little boost you get from knowing, “I did this.” You have so many big things to accomplish in your day-to-day life that something as little as making dinner could really put you in a better mindset.
5. Slims Your Waistline: One of the reasons you may love eating out (besides the fact that there are fewer dishes in your sink after) is that most everything you eat is delicious. Also, most everything you’re eating has way more calories than you probably think. That’s not to say all food at restaurants is bad for you, but much of it is best eaten in moderation. When you cook at home, you have better control over your portions and what’s going in your food, so you can go easy on the butter.
6. Improves Overall Health: Other than the fact that you’re easing stress when you’re cooking, you’re also eating healthy. It’s kind of like giving your whole body an interior makeover. Add some yoga… and your insides will look like a million bucks.
In psychological terms, cooking is therapeutic because it’s what’s called behavioral activation. It’s a positive activity with each step being a new goal that’s easy to accomplish and gives you a pretty immediate reward. With all the benefits of making meals at home, we have even more reasons to stop finding excuses to order pizza and instead find more reasons to uncover new recipes.
Have you found perks to cooking at home? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
(h/t The Wall Street Journal)