I wrote an article for the Kentishtowner last year on the many mental health benefits of baking and how it has helped many, including myself. With another series of The Great British Bake Off having kicked off last night, there’s little doubt the country will be talking nothing but cake in no time. So while it’s firmly established that Britain loves to bake, what does baking do for us?
Here are my tips to getting the most out of baking..
1. Be mindful
Evidence suggests that simple, repetitive tasks such as weighing out ingredients have a calming, meditative effect, and it’s easy to forget daily irritations when you’re manically whisking away. So rather than just thinking of the job as another to get done, read the recipe thoroughly, concentrate on the processes and try to execute each task carefully.
2. Stimulate the senses
Get stuck in: rub the flour and butter together with your fingers, whisk eggs by hand and utilise kneading dough to expend some energy – all these activities stimulate cognition and allow a connection with a feeling of nurturing and protection. The delectable whiff of a chocolate cake in the oven also has aromatherapeutic benefits, triggering surges of feel-good endorphins. There’s also a wealth of research connecting creative expression to overall well-being so once the cake has cooled, find your inner artist and decorate away.
3. Treat yourself
In today’s society while the majority spend eight hours a day in front of a computer screen with nothing tangible to show for their efforts, there’s a tendency to view career changes such as mine as self-indulgent, the actions of a middle-class romanticist. Yet baking is an antithesis to our fast-paced lifestyles where every spare second is filled with a social-media fix. If the baking process wasn’t rewarding enough, indulging in the finished product can further heighten your sense of accomplishment and subtly change brain chemistry – leaving you with that warm, contented feeling.
4. Share the feeling
Perhaps the best bit and certainly my favourite part of baking is sharing the results. Beyond the satisfaction of creating something pleasing from what was a disparate pile of ingredients is the feeling of elation seeing people enjoy what you’ve made – not to mention the resulting enrichment of interpersonal relationships. This summer’s Alma Street Fair reminds me of this: for all the days of stress and hard work that went into creating the goods for just a few hours of selling, the feeling at the end of the day was more than worth it. A traditionally wholesome pursuit, baking is symbolic of goodness and nurturing so if you find yourself with batches of cookies needing a good home, resist the temptation and instead give them away. You’ll be amazed at the response.
Read the full article here..