There’s a scientific reason cooking calms you down (if you’re into that sort of thing)

When you’re in the midst of an emotional breakdown (they happen, it’s part of being human) it’s probably a good idea to check in with two things: 1) are you PMSing? and 2) When was the last time you’ve eaten? The first is pretty self explanatory, and the second because low blood sugar (which you can get if it’s been too long since you’ve eaten) can totally bog you down. But which calmed you first, the food or the cooking? A new study found that cooking calms you down just as much as sitting down to a good meal.

According to a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, psychologists found that people experienced elevated moods after doing something creative. The study measured the effects of performing daily creative activities among a group of 658 people over 13 days and concluded, that “people felt higher activated PA [positive affect] and flourishing following days when they reported more creative activity than usual.” So making the mac and cheese is just as useful as eating it.

Yes, this is science.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with cooking, according to Smithsonian Magazine, cooking was one of the daily creative activities done by participants in the study. And cooking absolutely is a creative endeavor. Also, “flourishing” is actually a scientific term for the feeling of accomplishment we get from personal growth.

So that’s why Ina Garten is so happy. Now it all makes sense.

This isn’t the first time a correlation between cooking or baking and mood-improvement has been made.

The Guardian‘s Huma Qureshi wrote an article in 2013 which explained how cooking can help people with mood disorders or mental health struggles. Qureshi wrote:

The simple act of bringing dough together and stamping out rounds gave me a focus. My biscuits kept burning at the edges, but eventually I got there. I don't recall now whether we even ate them, but I do remember that getting them right in the end made a small part of me feel good.

Between the mindfulness, the hands-on-creativity, the ‘flourishing,’ and the delicious end product, cooking is basically the best way to live fully in the moment and gain some peace of mind. (And some pieces of pie.)

If you’re more of a frozen foods kinda person and not so keen on the kitchen, there are other great creative activities that yield the same result, like knitting or giving into the adult coloring trend! Basically anything you tell yourself that you “don’t have time for” is probably a good thing for which to make time.

Your brain deserves a break and your stomach deserves a cupcake, so bake on! It’s about self care.

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