Let’s Talk: Cooking as a Therapy Tool

Photo from Pinterest.com

Once again we’ve reached that point in the semester where exams, projects and homework assignments seem to be taking over our lives. These increased feelings of stress can sometimes feel hard to control, but VALLEY is here to help you relieve that extra pressure you’re feeling this semester. Next time you feel overwhelmed with your workload, take a break from studying by stirring up a new recipe. It will help relieve those stressors more than you think.

The Psychology Behind It

Cooking a meal for yourself has so many secret psychological benefits that we don’t always recognize. The process of cooking and preparing a homemade meal encourages us to be creative, while the final product of the meal gives us immediate gratification. Cooking for a group also makes us feel good about ourselves because we view it as a way of nurturing ourselves and others.

Many healthcare clinics have begun to use cooking and baking as therapy tools for patients dealing with anxiety or depression. This sparked The Wall Street Journal’s interest to dive into this cooking for therapy phenomenon. They found that cooking contains therapeutic value physically, cognitively, socially and interpersonally. When you’re paying attention to the details of cooking a meal, you redirect your thought process from any stressors and instead focus on the positive activity of cooking.

Patients that struggle with their mental health have participated in studies that have proven the many psychological benefits of cooking. One study that was published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy found that both cooking and baking heavily boosted confidence, created increased levels of concentration and provided a great sense of achievement.

Stress Relieving Recipes

Now that we know the benefits behind preparing a meal, here are a few recipes to make the next time you’re feeling stressed out about this semester.

Lemon Butter Seared Salmon
Photo from fitfoodiefinds.com

A long and chaotic day calls for a comforting dinner. Salmon is the perfect meal after a busy day because it’s not only easy to prepare, but it contains anti-inflammatory properties that will help balance out any built up stress.

Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats
Photo from Fitfoodiefinds.com

Preparing your breakfast for the next morning assures you that you’ll start your day off right. This breakfast is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth who knows they have a busy day in front of them.

Banana Bread Muffins
Photo from Acouplecooks.com

These banana muffins will quickly boost your mood because they’re easy to make, adorable looking and contain ingredients that will help deal with those extra stressors.

Pumpkin Bread
Photo from Onceuponachef.com

Now that fall is in full swing, what better way to destress than baking a seasonal favorite. Pumpkin bread is an essential for the pantry during the fall season, so next time you take a break from studying, make sure to prepare a loaf of pumpkin bread for you and your roommates.

Cooking, preparing and serving a meal may seem a bit overwhelming for a stressed-out college student. To our surprise, many studies have shown that the entire cooking process can make a huge difference in our stress levels. Decided to try out a new recipe? Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, and show us how you’re de-stressing this semester.


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