What about the less obvious ways you can improve your mental health? First of all, what do we mean when we refer to mental health?
Mental health includes many different fields of our life – emotional, psychological, and social life. It makes us think, feel and act differently. Your mental health is also responsible for stress handling, creating new relations, making choices, behaving, and reacting to people. There are many things that affect our mental health – environment, traumas, work, school, family, stress, friends etc. The longer we live the more we experience but our mental health has also biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry,
life experiences like abuse or a family history of mental health problems.
One of the lesser well known ways to improve your mental health is to learn to cook! Yes, you heard us right foodies! Let’s break down why now.
It occupies your mind
Being a cook is a quite a fascinating activity. Not only are your hands kept busy but your brain as well. The first thing is to get the best ingredients, having the recipe in your head, creating a plan and putting it into action! It is a process that makes your brain work harder and brings out your inner creative. The dish also needs to look nice and encouraging so being a cook is almost like being an artist. While cooking we feel positive and happy, especially when we cook for someone else. After all, it always tastes better when somebody cooks for us – why not spread a little joy around!
The connection between man and food has been around for years
Preparing food used to be a necessity to survive – but with the invention of fast food, processed foods, even microwaves – we seem to have lost this connection. Once you begin learning to cook, you will understand cooking is an absolute pleasure and even a way of expressing ourselves. We cook not only for us but also for people we love, creating these bonds works wonders on our mental health. Preparing nice homemade food is not only motivating but a great way to take care of your overall health. Homemade food is better for us than fast food so naturally, you eat better, this means you are getting all the nutrients and vitamins you need to live a happy, healthy life.
You save money….now you can book that relaxing holiday
When you cook at home you can save a lot of money and spend it on something else like a holiday, or relaxing spa break with friends. You can prepare meals ahead of time, for the whole week and not only save yourself some money but also your time. Let’s do a quick calculation – spending 20 pounds every day on a take away meal for you and a friend plus visiting a shop on your break to buy snacks takes your daily spend to around 30 pounds. That’s a mind blowing 900 pounds a month! Can you imagine how much you can save yourself cooking at home? Not to mention the quality of the food will be much better.
You can even grow your own food at an allotment
Having some private ground and growing your own fruit and vegetables is really good for your mental health. Imagine the great taste of fresh tomatoes grown on your own allotment. Growing your own fruit and vegetables from seed will change the way you think and feel about food. It is very easy to buy everything at the shop but growing something is a long process and you need to learn to take care of your food. Why is it good for our mental health? Because we spend time outside connected to nature, learn new skills – engage with fellow growers and builds your self-esteem. There is nothing better than growing something for seed, seeing the process through then picking it fresh and preparing it in your kitchen.
Cooking is so beneficial because it takes time, you need to think about what you are doing and you get to see an end result. It means that you have to put effort into cooking and preparing the dish and as a result – you can have a wonderful, nutritious dinner. This is called behavioural activation- finding meaning in the things you do rather than just drifting through them and zoning out. The benefit of the process of cooking gives you the feeling that you have achieved something with real meaning, giving you purpose.
Getting everything done takes time and preparation this in turn improves your organization and mindfulness. On a Saturday you can check what you have in your fridge and create a meal from leftovers and things that you already have instead of buying new products. It makes you feel happy and organized, also it makes you feel responsible and you are aware of what you buy and what you actually eat (a great way of cutting down on waste and helping the planet). Being organized and mindful can help you to look at your food from a different perspective and is a great way to improve your mental health.
It’s easy to see how learning to cook for yourself will benefit your mental health once you think about it! Happy cooking!