Cooking as a way to manage stress

If you’ve ever felt like cooking is therapeutic, that’s because it is. The benefits of cooking go beyond helping you take charge of your nutrition.

The holiday season is upon us. With it comes some of our favorite things: eggnog, snow, turkey dinners, Christmas jingles and decorations. But the holiday season isn’t without its stressors. Gift buying, hosting parties and catering to family all make for potentially stressful events. One underrated way to help you alleviate stress is by cooking. 

If you’ve ever felt like cooking is therapeutic, that’s because it is. The benefits of cooking go beyond helping you take charge of your nutrition. Chop, steam, stir, clean and repeat may seem monotonous but it can help you manage stress. 

You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the endless benefits of spending some time in the kitchen whipping up meals. Here are eight ways cooking can help you manage stress and inspire you to heat things up in the kitchen.

Get your creative juices flowing 

Cooking provides an excellent opportunity for you to get creative not just with your hands but with your mind. Play around with recipes. Try new ingredients and methods. Get creative with recipes you know and love, or try out recipes you’ve never made before. You create fun, lasting memories and might even unintentionally stumble on your next favorite meal. Take a stab at recipes of meals you might order in from your favorite restaurant. If it doesn’t turn out exactly as intended, just enjoy the process. If it does, you get to take joy in discovering your new hidden talent for making perfect mashed potatoes. 

Ladle out the love 

You are most likely to be surrounded by your nearest and dearest as the holiday season rolls around. What better way to show them love than by preparing healthy, hearty and nutritious meals? Making the people you love happy does wonders for your emotional well-being. If you are spending the holidays away from family, pull in friends and neighbors for a healthy home-cooked meal; they’ll be grateful for the love shown their way, and you’ll feel good about giving it.

Find comfort in the ritual of it 

The routine of cooking has proven to be very relaxing for frayed nerves. The process of chopping, searing, stirring and cleaning up has been reported to be relaxing. You can also make cooking a part of your daily routine. A routine has many health benefits, and stress relief is at the top of the list. 

Take charge of your nutrition 

Taking control of your nutrition is a significant first step to helping you manage stress. When stressed, you are more inclined to pick up poor habits, such as not getting enough sleep and eating nutrient poor meals. You might not be able to avoid stress eating, but you have control over what you eat. Opt for nutritious  snacks like fruits, nuts and homemade popcorn to help you stay healthy and avoid burnout. Your nutrition plays a crucial role in stress management. When stressed, you are more likely to neglect self-care and nourishment. Cooking to relieve stress ensures you care for your body and mind simultaneously. Consider recipes with brown rice, vegetables, berries and sweet potatoes. These foods have been shown to improve cognitive function

Nourish your mind

The result of some time spent in the kitchen isn’t only a delicious meal for you and your loved ones to enjoy, it also triggers the pathways in your brain that enjoys rewards. When anticipating a rewarding thing or experience, your brain releases copious amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is known as the feel-good hormone. It helps you feel happy, motivated and focused. 

Get physically active 

Cooking can be a very physical activity. When cooking, you can be on your feet for hours at a time moving around your kitchen. Physical activity has long been proven to help with stress management. Staying physically active while eating healthy and nutritious meals will do wonders for your health and well-being. People who live in blue zones are living evidence of this. These areas have a very high life expectancy, which has been attributed to having a healthy diet and keeping physically fit. 

DIY aromatherapy sessions 

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative treatment that focuses on harnessing the therapeutic benefits of certain aromatic smells. It has traditionally been used to alleviate stress. While with aromatherapy, essential oils are typically used to achieve this when cooking you produce, an array of fragrant aromas and smells can be as calming as an aromatherapy session. 


Cooking is a delightful and healthy way to manage stress anyone can engage in. If you are new to it and unsure where to start. You can start with simple recipes you enjoy and work your way up to more complicated recipes as you get more comfortable in the kitchen. With Lifesum Premium, you get access to an extensive database of recipes perfect for any level of expertise, from novice to master chef.

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