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Effective treatments for substance use and mental health involve deep introspection through therapy. Introspection is the process of examining and reflecting on your own feelings and thoughts and it is important because it helps a person to acknowledge their own unique qualities, leading to self-discovery and recognition of one’s overall identity. 

Replacing old, harmful habits with healthy ones is a crucial part of substance use and mental health recovery. A proper diet and exercise are two healthy factors that can help you during your healing journey. It is important to engage in a healthy diet daily to increase your overall quality of life. Potential passions, healthy habits, and important daily nutrition can all be connected by one simple activity: cooking. Here’s how cooking can help in your recovery.

The Importance of Finding Healthy Habits and Hobbies

While treatment equips you with many tools and resources of how to achieve and sustain sobriety, or how to achieve and sustain mental clarity, most of the work happens outside of treatment. Therapy will help you to address and alter problem behaviors and harmful habits, but treatment could not possibly mimic all of the past triggers that led to your mental distress. 

It is essential for you to identify healthy habits to engage in outside of treatment. A way to define a healthy habit is something that contributes to your self-care or helps you to engage in hobbies that you are passionate about. Healthy self-care activities and hobbies encourage new brain connections by altering addictive thinking patterns. Finding new ways to stimulate the brain outside of treatment is key for experiencing long-lasting recovery. 

The Benefits of Cooking

Cooking not only helps to fuel your body with needed nutrition; it stimulates your brain. By understanding the numerous benefits that are associated with cooking, you may find yourself more intrigued to give it a try. Cooking is beneficial because it allows you to:

  • Break up the routines of your day, especially for those that find themselves exhausted by repetition 
  • Increase your personal confidence when accomplishing a new recipe or dish
  • Curb negative thinking patterns by focusing your mind on something positive and nutritious to the mind and body
  • Use food to bring people together, especially when sitting down to enjoy a meal with family or friends
  • Explore your creativity over time by learning various cooking methods, recipes, and beginning to explore new dishes on your own
  • Eat healthier by making fresh meals with fewer preservatives
  • Save money by eating out less, as you only have to consider the price of ingredients

Cooking is Food for the Brain

There is an important relationship between nutrition and mental health. Most people understand that every food we eat metabolizes differently in the body. Some foods metabolize and lift your mood, energy, and concentration while others seem to have the opposite effect. 

When considering the effects of food on mental health, it is important to understand that eating a wide variety of different foods can help you to meet your daily nutritional needs. Most health websites recommend eating a ‘rainbow’ of different fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and dairy to take in essential nutrients. 

Healthy eating is one of the most important factors in maintaining mental health. Healthy eating is a protective risk factor against many physical conditions, as well as common mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. Eating well makes you feel good, both physically and mentally. 

How to Incorporate Cooking Into Your Lifestyle

We all know someone that doesn’t like to cook at all. We also likely all know someone that tends to be the chef for every get-together. Regardless of the kind of person you are when it comes to cooking, there are benefits that come from the act of cooking and the healthy eating involved with it. 

If you find yourself in and out of treatment or are struggling with cravings and triggers in your current stage of recovery, cooking may offer a great outlet for you to cope with your internal distress. If you are looking to incorporate cooking into your lifestyle, here are some suggestions of ways to start:

  • Come up with a list of some of your favorite dishes, especially which ones you would love to learn how to make yourself.
  • Purchase a cookbook. You may want to purchase one that works with your unique dietary needs or purchase a cookbook based on your current cooking level.
  • Choose some recipes that you would like to try. Make a list of any ingredients you may need, and take a trip to the grocery store when you are able. 
  • Turn on some good tunes and begin your cooking journey. Remember that if you fail at a recipe, do not get down on yourself! Try out a new recipe or ask a loved one for guidance and support. 

Creating healthy habits is essential for achieving long-term recovery from substance use and mental health distress. When you are attempting new hobbies, consider what hobbies may contribute greater benefit to your life. As diet and nutrition are essential to our wellbeing, a great healthy hobby to attempt is cooking. Cooking helps to stimulate the mind, alter negative thinking patterns, and flourish individual creativity. West Coast Recovery Centers values the importance of engaging in self-care and having healthy hobbies. The hardest part of recovery begins when you leave treatment, so it is important that you have resources and hobbies to lean on when you need support. Our treatment experience paves the path to success for you and your healing journey. For more information about the different therapy treatments we offer, give us a call at (760) 492-6509. We would love to help you discover healthy habits to engage in during your recovery experience. 

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