Stress… I know that people talk about it. A little.
Yet I don’t think we take it seriously enough — especially the profound effects it can have on you and your family and your health.
Especially chronic stress.
Chronic stress can significantly impact:
- how well you sleep
- how you interact with your family members and others in your life
- your performance at the work you’re called to do
- your health and well-being
- your weight
- and more!
Although I could talk about stress in our life, I want to focus this podcast on how to address stress in the kitchen — how to banish it and find more joy there. Because in our roles as family cooks or head chefs directing the food that prepared and served from our kitchens, we spent a lot of time there.
And that time can either be uplifting or depressing — and whichever it is affects our health and our whole life.
Be sure to share in the comments how you banish stress in the kitchen and find more joy in the kitchen… and your life!
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Video From Periscope
I recorded this podcast live on Periscope last week, and here’s the video from that! It’s just like the audio file above, except you can see it, too. 🙂
Want to join the fun of the live recording? Follow me on Facebook or @TradCookSchool on Periscope. I hop on to record most Thursdays!
6 Ways To Banish Stress In The Kitchen And Find More Joy In Your Kitchen And Your Life
Here are the notes from today’s podcast — all 6 points I made about how to banish stress in the kitchen and find more joy.
1. Calm Down
This is a mindset thing. It’s the way you handle difficulty and stressors, whatever your stressors are.
One example is: If you are a person who habitually gets annoyed by clutter, little hands getting in your way, a recipe not working out right, or being a Martha and worrying about your workload and how you’re going to get it all done — realize that you are triggering a stress-response each and every time you get annoyed, angry, anxious, or stressed. (And this applies to stress in the kitchen or out!)
Living this way, chronically, is like making yourself sick over and over again.
This could mean chronic elevated cortisol levels which is not good for you — or your family. It can interrupt or prevent your sleeping well at night. It can bring on tension headaches or aches and pains. It could mean your body is less busy burning excess weight or producing other hormones (like those that make you happy, or those that increase your libido)…
A portion of Bible verses that have been very helpful for my entire family is Phillippians 4:6-8.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
So calm down! How to do that… that’s #2:
2. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
I believe that we have a responsibility for our thoughts and actions, and that if we don’t take this responsibility seriously and fall into bad habits (like getting angry or annoyed or worrying).
Some people say, “Well, I’m just that way. I can’t help it.” I would like to tell you: “You can help it.”
At some point, you decided those things were important enough to get upset over. And your reactions are now habitual. You’re not purposely doing it any more, but you did once. You’ve got to break that.
How? Put it in perspective. They are really small, small things…
Also, pray and ask the Lord to help you identify when you’re doing it again. When you’re sweating the small stuff or allowing stress in the kitchen rather than being proactive about it. Or give your spouse or someone you love permission to tell you when you’re doing it again. So that you can catch yourself and choose not to get upset.
Not getting upset or annoyed means you put it in perspective. Circumstances will determine what the true perspective is.
Here are examples:
If you’re annoyed by clutter, you can instead choose to be thankful that the Lord provides your needs.
If you’re annoyed by the kids leaving crumbs on the counter, you can instead be thankful that the Lord blessed you with children who are vibrant, active, and can make their own sandwiches. (And later, after you calm down, you can call them in the kitchen to clean it up.)
The point with all this is: you can’t control other people and you often can’t control circumstances. But you can control your own reaction. Don’t be a slave to the negative. Focus on the positive and do what you can to change the pattern for the future (both in your own reaction and to fix the situation that causes the pain).
3. Be Willing To Walk Away — You Have a Choice To Say Yes Or No
Ok, we can’t walk away from our families, but we can walk away or choose not to engage in conversations, activities, or other things that are more than we can handle.
It’s called saying no.
You don’t have to do anything. You get to choose.
You get to choose what foods you’re cooking for the family.
You get to choose whether to gossip or put down someone else. You get to choose whether to open your home to others and be hospitable or to make other arrangements if you don’t care for their company.
I heard a story recently (I’m not sure if it was true or was an illustration) where a woman was seriously injured such that she couldn’t do housework and cooking anymore. Yet the family still expected her to do it. So the advice given to her was to sit down with her family and say, “Look. I can’t do it. I need your help. If you want to eat, you need to help. Here are my recipes. Or you all can decide what meals you want to eat and decide who is available when to do what. I’m here to answer questions and cheer you on, but I simply can’t do the work. It’s up to you.”
If she took the advice to have that frank talk with her family, her choice was to be proactive in expecting them to pitch in yet realistic about what she could and could not do to help. She would have been making a positive choice.
She could instead have chosen not to speak up so the family didn’t have the opportunity to step in and help each other. She could have chosen to wallow in self-pity about how she was failing her family in not being able to do what was expected of her. See the difference?
4. Focus On Love
You know what life is all about? Love.
We — moms and family cooks — get to act out our love for our family members day in and day out.
It’s a wonderful blessing!
It makes everything we do, worth it.
However, love is strong right. It doesn’t mean we’re pushovers.
It means we love… and sometimes that’s tough love. But always love. Never angry or annoyed.
If you focus on loving your family the way God has gifted you, suddenly the most mundane and trivial things become huge.
I love it when my husband or children ask me to make something special for them. I love to offer to do extra things, just because.
Over the years, my husband and I have intentionally worked on being thankful, giving thanks, and showing our appreciation, and I have to say that this does feed me. But even so, even if a person was not fed back in terms of reciprocation, if that person focuses on loving unconditionally, it really doesn’t matter what comes back to you. (It just so happens that love does come back though, 9 times out of 10!)
5. Fix What You Can Fix!
My previous tips all had to do with ways to kind of ignore and not focus on the potential negative things in our life.
Yet, we can be smarter than that!
Why not fix some things so they don’t cause you stress in the kitchen?
Like… if kitchen clutter bothers you, keep up with it! You can set a timer for 5 to 15 minutes each morning and/or afternoon to just put things away!
Or get the kids on a good schedule for helping you regularly, with dishes, wiping counters, putting away dishes, food prep — tasks they can do to help you decrease stress in the kitchen.
Reorganize your cupboards/pantry/etc. as needed to keep your organization relevant to how you’re cooking these days. We tend to change our habits and rather than keeping your organization stagnant to where it doesn’t work anymore and you don’t have what you need and things aren’t where you need them and your cupboards are full of things you don’t use anymore…. reorganize it. And don’t feel overwhelmed by it, but tackle it a bit at a time. Choose 1 cupboard or 1 area to tackle each day or every few days.
6. Love Your Kitchen Helpers
Got an Instant Pot, crockpot, rice cooker?… they are AMAZING helps in the kitchen. You can set and forget most of them and turn out beautiful and tasty whole food dishes or components.
Lately, I’ve gotten in the habit of pressure cooking a whole chicken in the evening. It just cooks while we’re winding down. (Did you catch that? We’re winding down reading or watching a movie and the Instant Pot is still working… )
Then, before bed, I put the cooked chicken in the fridge — bones and everything. The next day, I have cooked chicken for whatever purpose I want. I do the same thing with beans or rice or stock. This is not even during the usual cooking times!
From these helpers and making use of them, I get these benefits:
1) I’m resting and the appliance is cooking. Less time in the kitchen, less stress in the kitchen!
2) I have portions of my meals already done or in progress. It saves me tons of time and it also helps my children who may be cooking with me or cooking on their own.
3) It also means that family members have more options for the “free choice” meals.
- Instant Pot pressure cooker
- Free Traditional Cooking Video Series
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Anything to Add?
I would love to hear from you! Do you have questions for me, or comments about anything shared in this episode?
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Amy H. says
Your ability to produce valuable content week after week is astounding, Wardeh. Thank you!!
Wardee Harmon says
Ah, thank you, Amy! If I didn’t have you all asking questions and the Lord providing inspiration when I most need it, I probably wouldn’t have anything to say! (I’m not actually too much of a talker… ask my husband.)
Shonda Hector says
I have been choosing a day to cook the meats. Like cooking ground beef…or a chicken in the Instantpot (like you mention). Even making meats and storing in fridge with their sauces. The idea of chicken and bone broth in the InstantPot mentioned above is ideal! Then during the week I have more time to make fresh sides: vegetables, salads, etc. Even though I don’t bake in my bread maker, I do use the dough cycles so that I can focus on something else until it’s time to put the bread into the oven. Many times on that day I cook meats…I also might prepare grab and go breakfast foods.
Wardee, I have been using the soak and InstantPot methods you shared a few weeks ago and it’s wonderful. Perfect quinoa to add to my salads throughout the week. Thanks for that tip.