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6 Ways to Practice Self-Care in the Kitchen

By Kate Downes, LAc TCM Practitioner

If you love to cook, you probably already turn to your chopping board or mixing bowls when you need to clear your head. 

But for those who don’t take such joy in cooking, it can be hard to see how a “chore” could be a form of self-care. Let’s change your mind! Read on to learn how to bake simple self-care rituals into your daily kitchen tasks. 

How to Make Cooking a Self-Care Ritual

Food is more than just fuel – it’s how we nourish our bodies and minds. With these simple practices, you can use your time in the kitchen to not only eat more mindfully but enjoy more healing self-care rituals.

  • Embrace the ritual of cooking 🔪
    Rushing home to cook dinner after a busy day may not seem like a stress-relief activity. But if you blend mindfulness into the practice of cooking, you’ll start feeling zen long before you sit down at the dinner table.

    No matter how simple or complex you like to cook, there are a few things you can do to make cooking a relaxation ritual:
    • Cook with seasonal produce and fresh ingredients whenever possible. This will keep your body and senses aligned with the natural shifts in your environment.

    • Sharpen your knives. A dull knife is not only dangerous but makes kitchen prep frustrating. When your knives are sharp, they glide through ingredients and offer an ASMR-type of mindful relaxation.

    • Use aromatherapy to enhance your cooking ritual. The smell of citrus and herby scents naturally boosts your mood and can even improve digestion. Use an uplifting aromatherapy spray before you start cooking to put you in the mood to create. Or, create your own natural kitchen counter cleaner by blending essential oils like lemon, basil, and mint with vinegar and water.

    • Clear your head in the kitchen. Listening to a guided meditation, an audiobook, or a podcast you love makes tasks like cooking, prepping, and cleaning up an enjoyable act of self-care.
  • Turn hand-washing into a mindfulness practice 🧼
    A simple way to focus your mind and intention on creating a delicious, nourishing meal is by starting with a hand-washing meditation. Rather than rush through this step, take your time to gently clean your entire hands and forearms. Scrub each finger and nail while taking deep belly breaths and counting to ten.

    Make the most of this mini-meditation by using a nutritive hand soap like Unearth Malee Organic Olive Oil Soap. This super-sensitive soap is made with 100% pure extra virgin olive oil which prevents dryness and cracking.

  • Protect your hands with a nourishing cream🧴
    Cooking for yourself means lots of washing. Even if you are practicing gentle scrubbing techniques and using a quality soap, it’s a good idea to nourish your hands with a botanical cream after you are finished in the kitchen. Lhamour Hand Butter does the trick. This deeply reparative balm is creamy enough to restore your skin’s moisture but leaves you with a smooth, non-greasy finish.

    Take a moment after preparing your meals or cleaning the kitchen to massage the butter into your hands. Press deeply into your palms, around your wrist, and along each finger. This stimulates several acupuncture and reflexology points to calm stress and tension.

  • Play with mise en place – AKA “cooking feng shui” 🍱
    Mise en place is a term chefs use that means “setting in place.” If you’ve ever seen aesthetic flat lays of fresh ingredients on your favorite foodstagrammer’s feed or on a cooking show, you’ve seen mise en place in action.

    Not only does mise en place look nice, but it helps you keep your sanity in the kitchen. Mise en place helps keep your mind clear and your prep area orderly. It also ensures everything is ready for you when you need it – no stressing over forgotten steps or timing mishaps.

    To practice mise en place, prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking. Measure and prep everything you plan to use, then set each ingredient individually on a cooking block or in small prep bowls. Arrange the tools you will use in a way that’s organized but within easy reach for calm cooking.

  • Treat yourself to a greener kitchen 🍏
    If you love to stock your bathroom cabinet with sustainable skincare essentials, why not do the same in your kitchen?

    The kitchen can be a major place of waste – from unused food that’s gone bad to excess plastics and poor-quality, one-use cleaning supplies. The good news is that there are tons of ways to make your kitchen a safer place for you and the planet.

    Swapping out plastic food containers and utensils in favor of glass, bamboo, or stainless steel products is a great way to live more sustainably and protect yourself from plastic PVCs. Another way to ditch the plastic? Bring an organic cotton tote with you to the grocery store (or anywhere) and pass on the plastic shopping bags.

    Instead of using paper towels or mass-produced hand towels, treat yourself to a few Morihata Organic Cotton Japanese Hand Towels. These towels are incredibly absorbent and made with sustainable fabrics: organic cotton and linen. They last far longer than your average hand towel and repurpose well as cleaning cloths when you’re ready for a fresh set.

    Another way to spice up your kitchen in an eco-conscious way is with an Elena Scarlata Oven Mitt. These mitts are eco-friendly in every way – from the organic cotton to the vegan eco dyes to the fact that they are handmade and made to order! 

  • Eat mindfully 🍵
    Self-care in the kitchen isn’t just about cooking mindfully. It’s about eating mindfully, too! Rushing through your meals, not chewing properly, eating on the go, or multitasking while you eat is damaging to the Spleen according to Chinese medicine. And when the Spleen is weakened, we end up with bloating, indigestion, fatigue, and a slew of other health issues.

    To take care of your Spleen and support your healthy digestion, make mealtimes a mindfulness practice. Take the time to savor and enjoy the flavors. Thoroughly chew each bite and drink an herbal tea like Celestial Sun Brew after meals to improve your digestion.

  • Want to learn more about good-for-you self-care tips and wellness rituals? Follow Pink Moon on Instagram and subscribe to The Journal!