Baking is marvelous for our stomachs and more importantly, our souls and minds.
Here are five reasons why we believe baking can benefit our mental health:
1. Communicate one’s feelings
When baking for yourself or others, you can often find yourself using baked goods to convey your feelings or mood. According to Susan Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, different cultures bring food to friends or family to celebrate their birthday or congratulate them on a job promotion. Sometimes there are no words and only food can communicate what you’re trying to say. Baking pastries or food and bringing them to others can help those who have difficulty expressing their feelings in words or show thanks, appreciation or sympathy.
2. Bond with others
Julie Ohana, a licensed clinical social worker and culinary art therapist, shares that in many cultures and countries, food is an expression of love and care. According to associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, Donna Pincus, “baking for others can increase a feeling of wellbeing, contribute to stress relief and make you feel like you’ve done something good for the world, which perhaps increases your meaning in life and connection with other people”.
3. Embrace your creativity
A recent study has found that individuals who engage in creative projects such as cooking and baking are happier in their day-to-day lives. Researchers found a correlation between daily creative thinking and positive psychological functioning.
The study focuses on how emotions benefit or hamper creativity, not whether creativity benefits or hampers emotional well-being.
BBC Science Focus Magazine also made a similar statement by saying that “[c]reativity, goal-oriented behaviour and focused attention are all central to baking, and are associated with positivity and a sense of accomplishment.”
One reason that creative projects improve a person’s happiness is that creative projects such as making baked goods help people express themselves creatively and release stress.
4. Explore all your senses
Whether it’s the smell of brownies cooling or the feeling of kneading the dough, baking appeals to all five of the senses, which increases good endorphins. Baking can be a great activity to break up the day if you’re working from home during the pandemic and need to do something totally different or switch off from staring at screens. When we bake, we can get in touch with all our senses, sight, taste, feeling, sound and, in particular, our sense of smell, which brings back happy memories!
5. Accomplish an achievement
There’s a sense of achievement at the end of it that you’ve made something to show and share with people. This sense of achievement can help you develop self-esteem and establish positivity in your mind which will help improve other aspects of your life such as work or relationships.
6. Enhance focusness
Baking requires a tremendous amount of full attention. You have to measure and use the right amount of ingredients and focus physically on rolling out or kneading dough. When you’re focusing on kneading or rolling out dough, you’re present with what you’re creating. This act of mindfulness in the present moment helps you forget about worries in your life and reduces stress.
More, baking requires thinking step-by-step and following the specifics. It also requires you to think about the recipe as a whole, the dish as a whole, what are going to do with it, who it’s going to, and what time you are sharing it. This “big picture” thinking also helps you focus your mind on the present and temporarily forget about worries in your life.
In addition, when you’re not spending time ruminating over your thoughts (we know that rumination leads to unpleasant thoughts), you can do something that’s productive such as baking. One great outcome about baking is that you have such a tangible reward at the end and that can feel very beneficial to yourself and others.
If you are feeling inspired and ready to start baking, take a look at our recipes page for some inspiration. Also don’t forget to tag photos of your baked goods with @cotswoldflour on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Matthews Team