A Recipe for Positivity

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Fancy yourself as a bit of a dab hand in the kitchen? Masterchef don’t know what they’re missing without you right? Or perhaps you’re more like me? always manage to burn toast and don’t know your sieve from your ladle? Either way, I’ve been doing some reading (as I want to become a better cook) and it actually turns out cooking has more benefits than just being able to whip up a feast from nothing.

I’ve discovered, that actually cooking has many similarities to meditation and academically is known as culinary therapy (sounds swanky eh?) And actually it all makes sense, think about it. Cooking is all about the now, your mind focuses on the single task at hand. The power of kitchen time is growing in popularity as a method of therapy!

As food writer Ellen Kanner alludes preparing a meal is unlike any other day-to-day task as it gets you to slow down and focus. I while it may sound menial, I find myself agreeing, the precision and accuracy of weighing out flour, the intricacy of peeling vegetables really does allow the mine to hone in on the present moment allowing you lose all your inhibitions and stresses.

here are three things you can take from cooking:


Acknowledge how you’ve taken a plant from the ground that started from a root and transformed it into something substantial. Think of the whole process the food has been through up until you bought it, you’re part of a wider network and have made something ordinary into something of worth and delight.


Cooking allows you to show a little bit of you and is an outlet for expression. whether you follow and recipe word for word, follow it partly and decide you know best or chuck everything from the fridge in the pan and go with the flow. Get your senses involved work with textures and smells, it’s all trial and error. be your own muse and cater to your own taste. take pride from your end product in all its glory!


Don’t disregard the pleasure cooking can bring, it’s not just another task for the day, you can have fun with it. It isn’t exactly as mundane as pegging out the washing or doing the ironing. The stages of cooking from an idea, sourcing, prep, cooking, bringing it together and presentation has an inbuilt reward system and satisfaction can be gained from each stage.


But before you go and dust off that recipe book you bought with the best of intentions a final word. Allow the creativity you may find from cooking flow into other areas of your life, take pictures of your food, gather together recipes. Food is great for bringing people together, learn together, pass on what you’ve learnt or pick up tips.

We offer cooking groups every Monday from 3pm (drop us a line Contact or find us on  Twitter.)

Need a bit of inspiration? Here’s the recipe I’m going to be attempting tonight, wish me luck! Chicken & broccoli pasta bake


Written by Jonathan Blease

*disclaimer media not created or owned by Chester PLUS*

*Photo credit- Mrs Dornbergs


A Minute for the Mind

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Often finding yourself lost in the constant rush of day-to-day life? Planning your evening on the bus ride home? Folding your laundry with one eye on the children? You can too easily lose grasp on the present moment and feel like you’re living in an out of body experience. If you often find yourself feeling anxious, irritable, or always feeling tired, mindfulness could be the answer for you.

Mindfulness is the practice of clearing your mind of all the hustle and bustle for a short moment of quiet relaxation and re-connecting with yourself and the moment, however you’re feeling. Mindfulness derives from the wider umbrella of meditation. With its roots belonging to Buddhism, with the objective of taking the mind away from pre-occupations and appreciate tranquillity and a far-reaching perspective on life. But unlike meditation mindfulness can take as little as ten minutes and leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised.

But I know what you’re thinking, this is all some millennial, tree-hugging foolishness. You’re quite possible picturing a long-haired individual, dressed in tie-dye, clutching his battered Ram Dass novel eager to tell you how at peace with nature they are. But I’m here to give you a polite nudge in the opposite direction. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and offers an adaptive response to daily stressors. Studies show it can contribute to a positive attitude in all areas of life helping savour the pleasure in life working as a coping mechanism to adverse events. Also, it has been used as a treatment for depression as it helps regulate emotions while boosting resilience, empathy and self-esteem. Perhaps most importantly the therapy provides an opportunity to step back from negativity and seek clarity focusing on the here and now not worrying about past and future stresses.  We’ve got, among others, Professor Jon Kabat-Zimm to thank for bringing the method into mainstream practice. Through his work it has been found participants find it easier to accept life experiences while seeing positive changes in mood and behaviour, so from all of us here at Chester PLUS cheers Professor Jon!

So now I’ve got you all tantalized and in awe of what improvements this brief timeout could make on your outlook, here’s a little beginners outline I’ve put together.

Basic Mindfulness meditation- Take a seat and make yourself comfortable, sit quietly and close your eyes. Concentrate only on your natural, deep breathing. Allow thoughts to come and go but returning your focus to returning to your breathing.

Body sensations- Notice subtle changes, an itch or tingling. Scan your body from head to toe making note of each of these and let them go without judgement.

Sensory- Acknowledge your surroundings, what you hear, smell and taste. Be aware of the moment and let these pass. Return your concentration to your breathing.

For something with a bit more structure, perhaps you’d like to be guided through? Click on the video below…


So if you’re looking to reduce anxiety, improve concentration and increase creativity a short period of mindfulness every day might just be the key you’ve been missing to unlock a more zen you. Give it a go!

Written by Jonathan Blease

*disclaimer media not created or owned by Chester PLUS*

*Photo credit Enable Therapy Services*

*Video credit The Honest Guys*







New Year, New Start

This post was previously on chesterplus.org when we took our old site down in the new year:

Looking back 2016 has been a fantastic year for us, over the Summer we reached a first of being open five days a week and we regularly had activities on four days a week.

Numbers of people attending have also risen with some weeks fifty individuals coming along.

This has been truly amazing, with no staff or volunteers all the work has been accomplished by people with lived experience for people with lived experience.

To achieve this and to get us where we are now. we have always had to be flexible and to adapt to the constantly changing situations we find ourselves in.

At the beginning of the New Year we find ourselves in a slightly different situation.

Many of those who have got a lot from and given a lot to the charity are now themselves moving on to many fantastic opportunities and different adventures.

Coupled with the fact that while demand is still growing, we don’t want to push people who have come more recently to help run the charity before they’re ready.

We have decided to have a more flexible approach to our offerings that will change weekly according to our time levels available and other commitments.

We will remain open on Monday essentially from 10am till 8pm

10-12 Breakfast Club

12-3 Drop-in

3-6 Cooking group

6-8 Rethink Support Group

Each Monday we will then determine what else we will offer each week. Some weeks there may be two, some weeks five offerings, all entirely dependent on what we are capable of safely offering.

If anyone wants to be included on the Weekly Monday update either via text or email, please sign up as a member and let us know you’re preferred method of contact.

01244 343489 / info@chesterplus.org

New website, flyers & Posters to follow