Cooking might be the comfort you desperately need right now

We’re all living in an uncertain time, and we’re all looking for comfort in our new normal. Here’s why cooking can help.

Just about everyone in the world is on an ongoing quest for comfort right now. We’re finding new ways to stay connected with the people we love. We’re discovering new shows, learning new skills, returning to once-beloved hobbies, and doing our best to make the most of where we’re at and who we’re with.

Cooking may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think “comfort.” But food almost certainly does. So it only makes sense that you could potentially find more comfort in making food with the ingredients in your kitchen even before you get to taste it.

You don’t have to be a good cook to prepare your own food. You technically don’t even have to love food. But cooking does give you something to do, as well as something to celebrate and enjoy when you’re done. What do you have to lose?

Now that you’re spending a lot more time at home than you might be used to, there’s really no better time to give cooking a try. Whether you’re cooking just for yourself or for an entire household, there may be more benefits to skipping takeout than doing your part to flatten the curve.

Aside from the fact that cooking at home is generally healthier and cheaper than eating out, making your own food actually has the potential to give you that familiar “rush” of dopamine you might get from checking a task off of a list, for example.

This isn’t about the effects of the actual foods you eat, though healthy eating has been proven to stabilize your mood. Here’s the thing about cooking: When you set out to do it, you’re guaranteed a result. There’s a reward waiting for you at the end of every recipe — something you can not only hold, but taste, too. And a reward will almost always make you feel good, even if only temporarily.

That just means you’ll have to keep doing it. Practice makes delicious, right?

There’s also a benefit to preparing food for other people. You may not feel like you can do much for your loved ones right now, but if they’re the ones pacing behind locked doors with you right now, you can give them a home-cooked meal. That’s special. It can make a big difference.

And who knows? You may even discover that you really enjoy the way cooking makes you feel. Once all this is behind us, maybe you’ll choose to cook more often than you order something from a menu. It’s mood-boosting. It can take your mind off of things, or give your mind time to process things — whichever you prefer. It also allows you to provide something for someone else — bonus points if they smile and tell you they love it.

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So instead of scrolling through social media or refreshing the front pages of your go-to news sites, let cooking serve as the calming activity you’re looking for. If food makes you feel comfortable, enhance that comfort factor by making it in your own kitchen with your own two (freshly and properly washed) hands.

What are your favorite recipes to make at home? What do you want to learn how to make?