Kitchen Anxiety

Oh anxiety, you sometimes have to laugh at it when it pops up. Anxiety has prevented me from doing many things throughout my life, one of them being cooking.

I get a lot of anxiety whilst in the kitchen and surprisingly it relates back to my social anxiety. Social anxiety as a whole is mostly to do with how we interact with people, how it makes us feel and what it makes us think. Those with social anxiety will usually have a fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated (this can be anything from public speaking, making a joke or eating in public). I’m not much of a social person anyway, I enjoy and sometimes (most of the time) prefer my own company, so it’s taken me a while to figure out why I can be so uncomfortable in the kitchen.

I don’t know if it’s just me that finds it extremely difficult to follow recipes and I’m still not 100% sure why I find it so hard, but I think it could be to do with my tendency to overthink (once again, thank you anxiety for that). These are the types of recipes that cause me to go into overdrive and crash:
– Complex recipes (the ones that have 3 recipes in one)
– Recipes that are filled with cooking terminology (too much terminology for me)
– Recipes that have more than 10 steps (again, too much for me to handle)
– Recipes that require layers (please don’t ask, I still struggle to get my head around this)
– Serious recipes (You know the ones where if you don’t stir the pot in a anti-clockwise direction for exactly 3 minutes you’ll ruin the whole meal)

There’s a couple more but I think you get the jist. I avoided the kitchen for many years partly because of the recipe formats and it was hard for me to find something that I wanted to cook/bake, and not be brought to tears by the recipe (yes it has made me cry a few times).

Too Many Chefs In The Kitchen.
I dislike cooking when there are people home and I strongly dislike cooking when there are people in the kitchen. This has nothing to do with the people but more to do with my anxiety (surprise surprise). When I was still back home I would only ever cook/bake when I was home alone, I wouldn’t do it if mum or my brother were in the house. This one strongly relates to social anxiety as it is this fear of being criticised by my household. No one ever has criticised me, but my anxiety tries to convince me that they are thinking judgemental thoughts about what I’m doing or I’m gonna embarrass myself in front of them. Then if someone is actually in the kitchen, or even worse and they are watching me, I almost go into panic mode as I am panicking about having them within a close proximity to me (I like my space), and I can then feel their eyes watching my every move, all whilst I am trying to concentrate on what I am cooking, what step I was up to on the recipe and not fucking it all up. This usually results in me either getting all red, flustered and stressed or I end up snapping at the person (my apologises to N who I tend to snap at a lot when he is in my kitchen).

Not My Strongest Trait.
Cooking hasn’t always been my strongest trait, if anything I have always been a better baker than a chef. I struggle to make improvements around people as I feel as though it may open me up to criticism or they may see my failures and see me as a failure, plus I find it hard to learn more about cooking when I live with people who have been cooking for longer than me, it can be a bit intimidating sometimes.

So, I mentioned before (Self Care Days) that I have been making some improvements, one of them being cooking which has required me to improve on my kitchen anxiety. It would have been too daunting and too big of a task for me to face my kitchen anxiety head on, so I decided to start with several small steps which would help me gain more confidence in the kitchen. I started off by searching for hours and I mean hours on the internet for recipes that were:
– Easy to follow and understand
– Had pictures and/or videos (especially videos as this allows me to see what equipment is being used, see every step and how it gets done)
– Have common ingredients (none of the fancy shit as I’m not at that level yet)
– Healthy (as I consume more healthy foods than unhealthy foods)

By finding recipes that suit every part of me (but still push me a bit out of my comfort zone) has helped to reassure me that I can cook (which I have been nailing for the past 2 months now if I do say so myself), I just needed more practise. It’s easier now for me to cook whilst there are others in the house, however I still struggle if there is someone else in the kitchen (especially if they try talking to me). This I am still working on, but I decided to split my kitchen time. I like to meal prep, so on Wednesdays and Sundays the kitchen is mine for a few hours. In this time I have my earphones in, I am focused on what I am making, cleaning up after myself (this is probably my favourite part) and I am in the zone. It fills in some of my free time as well as providing me with mental stimulation, satisfaction and a bit more confidence each time. Then obviously now, the more I am cooking/baking the more I am improving. I’ve gone from making spag bol to roasting duck, nachos and homemade carbonara. Chocolate chip cup cakes were my speciality back home, now it’s banana bread, honey/oat cookies and chocolate mousse. Needless to say I am fairly proud of myself.

If you feel like you suffer from kitchen anxiety (or something similar) it would be interesting to hear your stories!

Thank you for reading,

Sending lots of love to you all,

Emma xo

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