There is no way around it. The psychology of cooking is a factor in your ability to stay gourmet through life’s challenges. We’ve all been there because bad things happen to good people more than they should. You might have received bad news about a family member, lost a client at work, or have struggled with health issues. The psychology of cooking may extend to the way you feel about your guests. Maybe you don’t like a person that is coming to your party but have to invite them for one reason or another. The most important thing to do is recognize how you feel and then use some of these coping mechanisms to navigate the party.

Tips and tricks to navigate the constraints affecting your psychology of cooking:

  1. Cooking for someone you don’t like. When your husband’s old college roommate shows up, and you don’t like him, or your wife’s third cousin, who is always pushing your buttons, is on the guest list, it causes stress. Some people handle this by behaving passive-aggressively, while some retreat to the kitchen to hide. I suggest a different approach. You need to take control of the situation but make the party fun. There are a ton of lively dinner party games that you can play that will keep everyone positive. Or, make the dinner interactive by keeping it moving. Have appetizers on the patio, dinner in the dining room, and dessert in the bar.
  2. Getting bad news right before your party. It’s really hard sometimes to put on a brave face when you feel down. But it could be just the right thing to do. The bad news isn’t going anywhere; you’ll have to deal with it soon enough. Take this opportunity to take the night off from thinking about it and enjoy your friends.
  3. Get help. Share the truth with your highest-energy friend and enlist their help in keeping the conversation light and happy. Any good friend will be happy to help you out, and it will take some of the responsibility of hosting from you during this difficult time.
  4. Use cooking as therapy. Immersing yourself in creating a beautiful meal with aromas and flavors that comfort you will make you feel better. When I was in the software industry, I used to get frustrated because the software was never finished. So, to compensate for this frustration, I would make a pie on the weekend. It gave me the closure of completing something in a short amount of time that I wasn’t able to do in my work.
  5. Buy flowers. Go out in your yard and cut a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or buy a nice selection at your farmers market. Getting out into nature will do wonders for your state of mind.