Cooking Up Self Care in the Kitchen


by Deja Vaughn | Thursday, Apr 21, 2022

As a student who has been in college pursuing an undergraduate degree since the Summer of 2016 with virtually no time off, I have incurred a lion’s share of persistent stress. With that being said, a few people have asked me what I do to cope with it all. As crazy as this may sound, whenever anyone asks me what I do, I actually never have an answer. Managing deadlines and appointments on top of work schedules and family issues takes a toll on you, especially when you suffer from both mental and physical disabilities. 

I have aggressively tried to find hobbies and things that I enjoy that are both productive and  necessary. Upon extensive research, I originally found that my favorite way to destress was to take a bath and cry. I love the hot water because I run cold and I suffer from chronic widespread pain. I find something therapeutic in having the ability to spend time absolutely by myself with no end in sight. However, taking that many baths would be frightening for my water bill. So it was back to the drawing board.

I tried to pick up writing again. I thought that since it was my passion, it would be easy. I sat down at my corner desk, lit my inspiration candle, got my music playing, and stared at my computer screen for an hour, completely undecided about what I wanted to write or how I wanted to write it. I began worrying about all of the things I could have been doing instead of sitting in front of my desk doing literally nothing. I laid on my bed and took a nap. 6 hours later I woke up to find myself fully dressed in bed in the middle of the night.

I felt like a failure. Why couldn’t I just relax? After a shower and a change of clothes, my stomach reminded me that I hadn’t eaten yet. I put on my headphones and walked to my kitchen. That was the beginning of my love story with food. I discovered that I possess a love for cooking and discovering music.

Depending on what kind of mood I’m in, I will listen to a certain playlist and scroll through my  cookbook. I will find a particular recipe based on a color and go from there. I may not enjoy grocery shopping, but the process of cooking and knowing that I am solely cultivating meals that anyone can have and enjoy brings me the greatest sense of peace. I get to try out new recipes or bring back old favorites from my childhood. It makes me feel good to be able to cook and listen to good music. Although it doesn’t take much money, effort, or time, I still get to fill my fridge with good and healthy food and invite people over to make good memories when I feel up to it.

Currently, I feel like I have released myself from my stress and anxiety as soon as I enter my  kitchen. I go to Barnes and Noble and buy cookbooks when I want to find new things to cook. Lately, I have been interested in soups. There are good and bad days when it comes to my health, but I at least have the capability and luxury of being in practically total control over what my body intakes. I am proud of the progress that I have made and can’t wait to see what other healthy relationships I foster in association with my body in the name of self-care.