I often get asked about ways to reduce stress and anxiety. One way is through making bread or cakes.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, here in the UK shops have been running out of flour, eggs and some of the other essential ingredients for cake making. Why is this?
Well, one reason is that we have more home time during the lockdown, and perhaps we like baking. But another often unknown reason for cooking can be to reduce stress and anxiety.
Most people don’t realise the benefits of baking. Maybe they think about putting on weight with eating cakes. Indeed, too much cake isn’t healthy and will contribute to weight gain, but this blog is not about weight reduction; it’s about stress and anxiety reduction.
When someone decides to bake a cake, they often think about producing something beautiful to eat but making a cake can be beneficial to the mind, body and tastebuds!
Let me share what I have learnt.
People who make cakes have a lot of skills
People who make cakes are artists. They use the creative part of their brain as they think about bringing together colour, consistency, and flavour. They may also think about table decoration and displaying their achievement in the best way to attract others.
They use problem-solving skills to get past challenges such as running short on an ingredient or adjusting the temperature on the oven if the cake is taking too long.
Cake makers can follow a recipe step by step, although they might be one of those free-flowing cooks who prefer to experiment and make their unique adjustments.
They may also know about safe hygiene practice or the components of healthy eating. Many people may even know the calorific value of what they are baking. Others will choose not to know!
Cake making has physical benefits
Firstly, you need to get the ingredients, and that means moving. Maybe you need to bend and stretch to find the ingredients in the cupboard, or perhaps you need to go out to the shops to get those essential ingredients. This preparation is all necessary activity which is required when you are forced to stay at home because inactivity can lead to anxiety and depression.
Beating, whipping and kneading are all actions that use the muscles and increase blood flow and nutrients to different parts of the body. It is like giving yourself a kitchen workout, especially if you do all the mixing by hand rather than use a machine to do the blending.
Cake making has psychological benefits
We all use our senses to connect with the outside world. Smells of cooking can trigger memories of good times with family or friends. Remember the time you went out with friends to a birthday party? Remember the smell of freshly baked bread or cakes?
When we see and smell excellent food, it can trigger our body to produce saliva and can make us feel excited to eat. Seeing a finished cake can also give us that sense of achievement because we have finished producing something.
Baking a cake could also trigger feelings of gratitude during these difficult times. Maybe you feel grateful for the food you have or the fact that you are healthy. You may also feel thankful for your family and friends who may share the cake with you.
These good feelings with others can also be enhanced if you take photographs of your achievement, and then share them on social media. Subsequently, when you get all those likes and comments back that praise feels good and is a reward for your hard work and artistic talents.
Maybe you can hear the screams of excitement from children when they see your finished cake.
Cake making is mindful
But most of all, making cakes allows you to develop a mindful state of consciousness. This mindset means that you get focused on something useful rather than allowing your mind to wander to negative things. And you think about what you are doing rather than feeling awful about the past or the future. You make cakes in the ‘here and now’. Making cakes develops a procedure that focuses you on what you need to do in each step of the process, so reducing stress, anxiety and worry.
We all know that too much anxiety is not right, yet it can be difficult to stop worrying sometimes. With all the changes in peoples lives some anxiety and worry is expected but it mustn’t get out of proportion. Too much stress and anxiety can make you feel irritable, shaky, get headaches, aches and pains and it interferes with sleeping as well as making you feel tired. Focusing on one thing like making a cake can help because you divert your attention away from yourself and get the health benefits that go with it.
So, if you are feeling a bit anxious with staying indoors, consider making a cake. If you still feel anxious talk to someone like a friend, a counsellor or your doctor. If you are wondering if you are suffering with anxiety find out more at https://www.awakenthechange.com/hypnotherapy/help-with-anxiety/
Now next time you decide to bake a cake, you will realise some benefits that cake making can bring.