Cooking as a Form of Self-Care

I started teaching myself to cook at a young age. I want to say I was pretty comfortable being around stoves by the time I was 9 or 10. It was nothing fancy, mostly just grilled cheese and pancakes from a box, but it was something. Cooking started as a necessity so that I could take care of myself while my parents were at work. Barring the incident where I forgot to put water in my Easy Mac, it had worked out pretty well for me.

As the years went by, and I was overcoming my negative relationship to food, I turned to the act of cooking to help heal me. Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I started cooking more regularly so that I could take control over something I felt I had little control with. I chose to look at the food that I made from scratch, food I made myself, was more valuable than any other negative voice in my head. The food that was once my enemy became my saving grace.

I also realized I enjoy cooking. I find the process very soothing. I think it’s the best kind of therapy. Cooking helps me work through my anxiety. For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with anxiety. It’s the kind of anxiety that can turn a whole day. It can leave you dizzy in its wake. It’s the kind of anxiety that leaves your whole-body feeling separated from your mind. My knives and cutting board help me feel a little put back together again.

once I have my apron on though, it’s like I move into a different mindset. All that matters is the food. The anxiety is not an overwhelming feeling then. I have concluded that the prep is my favorite part. When I am in the kitchen I find a rhythm.

Dicing onions
Peeling potatoes
Barrell cutting a bell pepper
Mincing garlic

I love it all. I think it’s the repetitive motions in cooking that I find so soothing. If I stir something for long enough I can walk back the anxiety. It’s like syncing your heartbeat to the tempo of your cooking style. It all sounds very cheesy, but I stand by what I say. Slow and steady hands give me a slow and steady heart. I guess it all comes back to control. Because I’m feeling out of control when I am having anxiety I counterbalance with something that is entirely in my control. When I end up with a successful result, I think it bleeds into whatever my emotions are as well. I am proud of myself every day because I found a way to cope that is largely healing on all fronts and most of the time it’s yummy.

My time in the kitchen is my attempt at self-care daily. I think what’s most important is to find something you thrive at and work it to your advantage. Move forward in the direction of your healthiest self, you owe it to yourself.
Until next time readers…

-Bianca A.

P.S I once had a banana bread loaf in the oven for 40 minutes before I realized I had turned off the oven instead of the timer from the loaf I had baked just pulled 10 minutes prior so take from my experience what you will :’)

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