Here’s something I realized when I first began to experiment with baking breads at home – it’s super therapeutic to be able to punch and knead something that will eventually turn out the better for it. I also just love the soothing process of baking a favorite cookie, or trying out a new cake recipe.
People would always ask how I had time, or why not just buy it at the store, and my answer was always that it made me happy.
It turns out that I’m not alone; baking is a great way for anyone to get a little free stress relief at home.
Dr. Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a clinical psychologist with a background in disaster stress management, says she believes a few factors come into play. First, there’s the creativity of choosing a recipe, changing a color, etc. Then there the smells, which are relaxing and often remind us of happier times.
Then, you get into the magic, the routine, and the magic of routine.
“Mixing inert substances together, and watching them rise can being out the mystic, or the chemist, in all of us. …There’s a rhythm or pattern to baking. It feels familiar and can even lead to a mindful state.”
As long as you’re not doing it with a helpful 3 year old, at least.
Many psychologists agree that mindfulness – the quality of being aware and engaged – is one of the better ways to combat anxiety and depression. And baking requires you to be engaged, lest your cookies be as nightmarish as the world around you.
Nobody wants that.
McNaughton-Cassill thinks that having something to show for our hard work, for the days we’re plodding through, is also something that contributes to a resurgence of “old fashioned” skills.
“…throughout much of history people had to engage in physical, survival-based activities like growing food, building their own homes, and sewing, which while physically hard, provide a strong sense of accomplishment. I think this is why there has been such a resurgence of interest in crafts, home remodeling, and cooking. We want to feel that we can still do things that impact the environment.”
There are so many people baking, and posting pictures on Instagram and other social media outlets of their baking. Hashtags like #bakeyourmindoffit and #letscookthroughthis are thriving, and joining in is making people feel less isolated, too.
Dr. McNaughton-Cassill says she hasn’t heard of baking-as-therapy, but she “likes the idea a lot.”
She also suggests that we need to do a search for the “Bob Ross of baking” and idk. The Great British Bake-Off kind of does it for me.
Are you baking your way through this? Share your thoughts – or even your favorite recipes – in the comments!