I insist on my multi-step skincare routine, make an expensive habit of boutique fitness classes, and set aside hours of time to stay home alone reading, but nothing centers me more than cooking.
The daily necessity of procuring a meal for oneself can seem like a drag or a time-suck, with plenty of cookbooks selling “easy” and “fast” recipes for the “busy,” but it’s an activity ripe for the many dimensions of self-care—especially when consciously treated as such.
With cooking, I meet my own basic needs and do so in a way that satisfies my senses and my sensibilities. By imbuing it with intentionality, I meet needs beyond nutrients and calories.
From the mind-clearing benefit of doing a repetitive task with my hands to the feeling of accomplishment from turning ingredients into one cohesive dish, paying attention to the cooking process makes every meal worthwhile.
The routine offers stability. Determining what to make is an exercise in choice. Every new recipe teaches something. The required multitasking challenges the attention span. Eating until full is a measure of contentedness.
Eating can be pure pleasure, a hedonism rife with guilt and overindulgence. But when the eating is the aftertaste—a very good one—it’s engaging for my mind as well as my taste buds.
I consider what’s working and can identify exact ingredients and techniques. I contemplate improvement. I know what I’ll change next time in precise, measurable steps. I’m a tablespoon away from perfection or another two minutes from enlightenment.
But every time, the nourishment—mind, body, and soul—from that single meal is enough.