Is baking good for your mental health?
With ever increasingly stressful and busy lives, it is really important to find things to help you to unwind, relax and destress.
Baking has always been my relaxation activity of choice. But what evidence is there to support that baking is good for your mental health……
How is baking good for mental health?
Studies have shown that people who have hobbies they passionately love, have less stress and a reduced risk of depression
Baking can be a great way to help you de-stress. It is a calming and rewarding activity, providing focus for your mind.
The average person has over 6,000 thoughts per day. A creative activity, such as baking helps to focus the mind, calming the brain and body.
In more ‘technical’ terms – baking helps to lower our stress hormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine. High levels can cause sleep problems, low immunity, high blood pressure and more.
When the levels of stress hormones are reduced, you’re simultaneously minimising the anxiety and stress that your body is exposed to.
Baking for mental health
Former Great British Bake Off contestant John Whaite says that baking helped him through his depression.
“When I’m in the kitchen, measuring the amount of sugar, flour or butter I need for a recipe or cracking the exact number of eggs – I am in control. That’s really important as a key element of my condition is a feeling of no control.”
He’s included a chapter on the recipes he uses to help lift his spirits in his latest cookbook
Benefits of baking for your mental health
Boosting your self-confidence
When you decide to bake something, you are setting yourself an achievable goal which, when met, can help raise your self-esteem.
This ‘little win’ makes you feel good (remember those hormones above).
More importantly, it makes you believe you can do more of the same. This in turn boosts your self-esteem and self-confidence.
You start to believe in YOURSELF!
Recreating happy memories
Baking can spark nostalgia – when we’re cooking and baking, we’re often recreating positive experiences or happy memories.
For example, using recipes that you shared in the past with your parents or grandparents, can help you feel connected to moments, memories, or people you love.
“Baking can be done with a few simple ingredients, so it’s about simplicity and nostalgia – people are reminded of their childhood.” Paul Hollywood
This photo brings back such happy memories of baking with 2 of my children, when they were much younger!
Sharing the joy
Baking for others shows you care. It can be an expression of love, appreciation and celebration.
Sharing baked goods with your friends and neighbors is a great way to feel connected or make new connections.
Baking with family, friends or organised groups gives you the opportunity to connect with others. This can reduce feelings of isolation and exclusion.
Isolation can trigger or deepen feelings of depression. When we are feeling down, baking with others can help transform those negative feelings back into a positive state.
The feelings of safety, trust and belonging increase when socialising with friends and family. These emotions can help form a strong and healthy relationship.
Even sharing a cup of tea and a slice of cake during a virtual ‘zoom’ chat, can give you a sense of support and belonging.
Happy students at one of my ‘face to face’ classes in Beverley, East Yorkshire. Find out more here.
It was a really friendly class and it was nice to meet some new friends with like interests.
How does baking help mental health?
When you focus your attention on an activity like baking, you’re more present in the moment and less focused on stressors of the past or future.
“There’s no scientific research to explain why or how baking helps to make you feel better, and it’s certainly not a cure for depression. But it is therapeutic, and it helps many people,” says Emma Thomas, from The Depressed Cakeshop “Baking is creative, and instantly rewarding. I’ve realised that cake gets people talking, and the Depressed Cake Shop hopes to get people discussing mental illness and supporting mental health charities.”
Please remember, seeking help for mental health is no different from visiting the doctors with a physical health issue. If you need help, do reach out to health professionals.
Interested in cake decorating and sugarcraft?
I have a fabulous FREE FB community group, full of like-minded, supportive people.
It is a safe space for learning and sharing, so please come on over and join us.
You will be made very welcome.
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