Have you noticed a lot of banana bread, sourdough and brownies popping up on your social media feed? You’re not alone.
As the world is physical distancing, more people are taking up baking at home. It’s hard to find flour anywhere and yeast is flying off the shelves. So why is baking becoming so popular (aside from being delicious)? Because it’s great for our mental health!
There are tons of scientific studies to back this phenomenon. A 2017 study found that baking had positive influences on ‘socialization, self-esteem, quality of life and affect.’ It’s also been used in rehabilitation centres and for people with more serious mental health issues like schizophrenia.
So, if you’ve been thinking about picking up that rolling pin and plugging in the mixmaster – we’ve got some reasons why you should consider baking for better mental health.
A Sense of Control
When you set out to bake something, you’re calling the shots. Of course, there’s a set of directions on how to bake, but you’re free to customize it to how you like it. Some of the best recipes that get handed down through generations take their own spin on a traditional way to bake something.
When we feel out of control, it can take a toll on our mental health. The feeling of losing control has been found to cause depression and anxiety. So even if it’s only for a short amount of time, baking can help us feel more centred. This is especially true with the current global health situation, having some control over something can definitely make us feel better.
Cooking Up Creativity
Baking is an art form and allows you to show off your creative skills. Whether it’s piping icing onto a cupcake or cutting out a pie topper – your style can shine through. Being creative is also good for your brain. A study in 2016 found that people who did something creative during the day had ‘positive psychological functioning’ throughout the rest of their day. It’s also really fun and can be a major boost to our mental health.
Connection with Our Senses
The sights, sounds, smells, and of course, the taste of baking all stimulate our senses. Think of the smell of fresh brownies, the feeling of kneading out your dough or the sound of a mixer hard at work. These all work to get our senses going! Smell in particular can be good for our mental health. Not only does it trigger memories, but its also been shown to have positive effects on mood, stress and how much work we can get done. Stimulating our senses is just good for our brains.
One of the best things about baking is the way it makes other people feel. If you’ve ever received some homemade cookies from a friend or have memories of your mom making a cake for your birthday – you know how awesome it feels. Knowing that someone has put time and effort into something they could easily buy makes you feel special.
It feels great to be on the receiving end of baking, but it can feel even better to be the one giving it away. Seeing a big smile on someone’s face when they get a batch of cookies or a fresh loaf of bread is rewarding and great for our mental health.
A Meditative Escape
Activities where we must focus all of our attention and switch off from the outside world can be really calming. It’s almost like meditation. You have the instructions laid out for you and can disconnect from your worries and focus on the task at hand. We’re able to shut out negative thoughts for a while and just be in the moment. No emails. No texts. Just baking.
Baking is great for your sense of confidence. Knowing you’ve put in the time and effort and created something from scratch gives a great sense of reward, especially when you can share it with other people. One study found that baking allowed people to ‘demonstrate their abilities to themselves and to others while realizing their own potential.’ They also found that it built confidence and increased the feeling of self-esteem.
Whether you’re a natural chef or you’re embarking on a brand new baking adventure, baking is a great way to boost your mental health. You can do it alone, as a family or even on a socially-distant zoom call! Baking is about taking time to create something you and your loved ones can enjoy.