Regaining a sense of normalcy during a global health crisis is something that many people are still working on during the third week of Metro Manila’s enhanced community quarantine. Although change and stress are inevitable, the context of this disruption to daily life is staggering—isolation, anxiety and hopelessness are looming feelings that many are trying to work through. 

To cope with the challenges of staying at home, people have turned to hobbies and various activities that can provide them comfort. For the past weeks, people have explored TV shows, video games, home workouts and free online classes. But one thing that people are also exploring is cooking and baking. Trends on social media point to how people use cooking as a means to socialize such as food challenges on TikTok and Michelin-rated chefs turning to Instagram to share recipes and techniques. 

Aside from being a functional activity, cooking has been a method to stay active mentally and physically during the quarantine period. Both of these activities are worthwhile engagements whether you’re looking to pass the hours away, learn a new skill or to simply feel better about everything that’s happening in the world right now. 

Here are some other ways that cooking and baking impact your mental and emotional well-being:

FOSTERS SOCIALIZING

While you can hardly expect quarantine to become an avenue for socialization, online communities can keep you company. In a study done in 2018 on cooking groups, such as community kitchens, cooking was found to be a great way to foster feelings of belongingness and to bond over shared social interests. 

In a 2014 report, psychologists are now using cooking and baking as therapy tools for people suffering from depression and anxiety.

Chefs are opening online classes or live cooking demos through their social media so you at least have some company while attempting a new dish. If you’re quarantined with your family, you can also make meal preparation a family effort. Participating in viral cooking trends can also give you not just good food but a sense of community with those you tried it with. In the same study, the test subjects were reported to have formed better social interaction behaviors with those outside their cooking group. They also continued on with their love of cooking, working on preparing meals even six months after the experiment. 

SPURS CREATIVITY

To many professional chefs and amateurs, cooking is an art. Recipes are only foundations of the dish but what makes it a quality experience is personal interpretation. In the same way, cooking and baking regularly exercises your creativity and increases your well-being. Although great cooking requires great skill, it doesn’t hurt to go through trial and error to master a dish you love or to reinvent an old favorite. Baking is also a challenge that requires precision and patience but it wouldn’t hurt to add a little innovation, especially at a time when cooking is all about experimenting with what  you currently have. 

HELPS FIND MEANING 

One of the best things about cooking and baking is that you have something to eat for your efforts. In 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that psychologists are now using cooking and baking as therapy tools for people suffering from depression and anxiety. Aside from soothing stress and building self-esteem, these activities curb negative thinking through behavioral activation, a therapy tool that increases goal-oriented behavior. In cooking and baking, the person’s endeavors are rewarded with the dish or pastry that they poured all their effort into, thus conditioning the person to feel accomplished and confident in themselves. 

Cooking and baking are immersive experiences that engage the mind and body. This can be a form of mindfulness where you can focus on the moment itself.

RELIEVES STRESS AND INCREASES MINDFULNESS

Cooking and baking are immersive experiences that engage the mind and body. This can be a form of mindfulness where you can focus on the moment itself. Because many recipes require full concentration, you can maintain attention on the task, as opposed to checking social media again and again. Mindfulness-based practices such as cooking play a role in the treatment of anxiety as several studies suggest. A study done on patients hospitalized on a burn unit also concluded that cooking distracted them from thinking about their injuries and other health-related anxieties. The study also reported that 38 percent of the participants feel less anxious when they are participating in group cooking. 

These are just some of the benefits you can enjoy while cooking and baking during the enhanced community quarantine. Times like these are stressful but if you’re lucky enough to be able to stay at home, go easy on yourself and work on finding comfort within your own home.

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