« Associating healthy food with a relaxing environment or a beautiful presentation creates a positive association, » says Dr. Boseovski. « It helps to remind you that this week is special. »
Consider the following to increase special while reducing stress.
1. Walk into a specialty food market.
Whether you’re heading to an outdoor farmers market (weather permitting) or a lovely indoor gourmet shop, consider this a relaxing adventure that can help you bring a treat or two to your meals. Unlike your usual trip to the grocery store, you’re not there on business, trying to get in and out as quickly as possible. Instead, you wander from one stall or section to another, just looking to see what’s on your mind.
Take time to linger and sample samples of olive oils, cheeses, and other specialties. Settle in with a cup of gourmet coffee or tea. Have fun looking for fun treats that can complement the meals you’ve already planned for yourself. Would grass-fed goat cheese brighten up salad night? How about some fresh sourdough bread to accompany your charcuterie? Or maybe a rare local spice is just what your big meal needs to take it from ho-hum to out of this world.
2. Make it social.
Hosting a kitchen party can be a great way to see friends and scratch some meal prep off your to-do list.
« Lean into the power of social support and turn what seems like a chore into a healthy hangout, » says Broxterman. Invite a friend over to help you batch cook these chilies and casseroles, plus…
- Chop all the onions, peppers and carrots needed for the week ahead. Then, store them in the freezer to take out when you’re ready to cook, Moore suggests.
- Assemble containers of oatmeal, salads and other takeout meals for the night.
- Hard-boiled eggs for salads and charcuterie evenings
While you’re chopping and cooking, crank up a playlist (since your friend is helping you out, give them tips on music control first!), sip wine, and enjoy each other’s company. Then share the spoils of your work, so that you both enjoy the day.
3. Eat in a warm setting.
« Self-care is about doing something that feels good to you, not just in the moment, but also afterwards, » Broxterman says. Some activities, for example, drinking too many glasses of wine, may be enjoyable at first, but not so much later (hello, headache.)
Others, like enjoying a quiet meal outdoors, check both needs and are true self-care, she says. Nature is certainly relaxing, and a 2020 to study in the Journal of Academic Health suggests that people can improve their mood even by bringing passive activities, such as eating, into the fresh air.
You could treat yourself to an outdoor picnic and enjoy eating outside in nature near a gazebo. It could be a park bench or a short hike in the woods if you have local trails nearby. Or just eat outside in your garden. Bring along a soft blanket to further enhance the cozy vibe.
If the weather doesn’t permit eating out, consider ways to add a touch of luxury to indoor dining.
Maybe you light some candles, use that fine china you inherited from grandma, or pull out that tablecloth someone gave you two years ago for Christmas. Or, if all that fancy stuff is what you usually do during your working weeks, maybe you change things up by becoming less formal: eating snuggled up in bed, for example, or having dinner on the sofa.
There are no strict rules. So consider: What would make you feel special and loved? So go do that.