According to a recent poll, Americans have reported feeling 62% more anxious than they did at this time last year.
The main concerns were keeping their families safe, the pandemic, their health and gun violence. On top of that, the economy is still in the dumps, and unemployment is still up.
There seems to be so much wrong in our world today, it’s easy to let ourselves get overwhelmed with anxiety and worry about our lives.
But what about the simple things in life – like baking?
To find out if baking really can reduce stress and anxiety, we must first understand what baking is. Baking combines dry ingredients together to make some delicious treats for yourself or others. Some of the more popular baked foods are cakes, cookies, muffins and breads.
So, can baking really reduce stress and anxiety? Is it really that simple?
The answer is yes, it can!
Read on to find out why.
Why is Baking so Therapeutic?
By baking you are taking a moment to slow down and relieve some of your daily stresses. Baking requires some of your time, patience, effort, and creativity. You will have to make sure you understand the recipe completely before you start baking so that the outcome will be a tasty treat to enjoy. When you are baking you can let your creative juices flow. Baking can be very relaxing and calm for some people. Others find themselves lost in the moment as they bake and forget about their worries of the day. Baking involves the senses, which will help you focus on your baking, and not on all of life’s problems and stressors. You will be able to enjoy the smell of freshly baked goods as well as see your creation take shape.
How Baking Can Make You More Mindful: Step-by-Step
Mindfulness is when you’re fully aware of the present situation and surroundings. It means being fully aware and calmly accepting of your emotions and thoughts, rather than an extreme reaction.
Many psychologists believe that baking can be a fantastic way to reduce stress and anxiety because it involves your senses. Baking helps you to focus on the task at hand, rather than look at what is going on around you. If your focus is broken, or you are not sure how the recipe works, then you will run into problems when trying to follow through with the recipe. This is especially important if you are in a highly stressful situation. For example, many people have trouble coping with their work, family life, and personal relationships.
1. The Stresses of the Day Disappear
If you feel overwhelmed with life, the actual physical actions and feelings associated with cooking can supply a sense of stability. The calming effect of improving your mood as well as reducing stress levels are caused by the elevated awareness of your body and mindfulness (being present in the moment).
For those facing anxious thoughts, the creativity of baking acts as a welcome diversion to keep the mind focused on a beneficial activity, rather than on negative thoughts and worries.
2. The Boost Caused by Multiple Sensory Inputs
As baking engages multiple senses (taste, smell, touch and sight) – it can be therapeutic for people who have positive memories associated with baking.
Our autobiographical memory is connected to how we process and experience certain moments in our life. For example, the sensations of kneading the dough, or the smell of freshly baked bread.
3. The Calming Effect of Repetition
Measuring, mixing and kneading are just a few of the repetitive motions involved in baking. But it’s these simple activities which can reduce anxiety for those who feel anxious about performing specific tasks. They have a soothing effect by engaging the brain and improving mood.
Devoting your entire mental and physical energy makes it possible to reach a state where you have increased levels of self-connection and self-esteem. In other words, you gain a higher emotional ability.
4. Having a Sense of Control
If you look at recipes, either in a book or online, they have one thing in common. Prep time. But what’s that got to do with your stress levels?
Well, as baking has a fixed start and end time, this gives people a sense of control over something, which staves off feelings of depression or feeling overwhelmed.
There’s only one thing that needs your full mental and physical capacity. That’s what’s going down (or up) in the oven. Then there’s the control you have over the final product. This level of focus can create a powerful sense of being calmly capable of handling anything, even when the world outside is collapsing.
5. The Result Tastes Good (For All)
If you’re baking every day, then eating those cookies, brownies and cake – it certainly won’t make you feel any better. While baking can reduce stress, you need to understand that.
what you eat is also connected to your mental health.
So how can you balance what you bake and consume? Simple, Share it.
The most effective way to practice baking therapy is to (mindfully) taste a small piece of your goodies, and then share the rest with your family and friends. Generosity makes you feel happier.
One final bonus tip. to help boost your mental health is to get others involved. Get your husband or the kids in the kitchen. Then there’s more opportunity to share some extra big hugs and kisses!