We’ve got some great news for people who love to bake! It turns out that not only can you enjoy the unbeatable taste of fresh-from-the-oven goods, it’s also a great activity for your mental and emotional wellbeing.
According to Dr Stephen Carbone, research and evaluation leader at BeyondBlue, people with depression have reported feeling more positive while baking. In fact, the process aids in keeping people busy, active and social, leaving them less time to dwell on their thoughts in what can be seen as a form of mindfulness.
“People lose their energy, drive and withdraw socially when they’re depressed,” he said. “Part of the recovery process for depression is to encourage people to get into something relaxing, which keeps them busy and active, in order to help them out of their state of inertia.”
Author Marian Keyes told SBS that baking has made a positive difference in bouts of depression. “Baking makes me concentrate on what's right in front of my nose,” she said. “I find it calming and rewarding because, in fairness, it is sort of magic – you start off with all this disparate stuff, like butter and eggs, and what you end up with is so totally different. And also delicious.”
If you’re a creative baker, you might also appreciate the self-expression that baking provides. Donna Pincus, associate professor of psychological and brain services at Boston University, told Huffpost, “there’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall wellbeing. There is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”
Baking for friends and family is another way you’ll get feel-good vibes from cooking. The effort you’ve gone to will not only be appreciated, you’ll also have a fun time putting it all together! Donna suggested that baking for others can make you feel “like you’ve done something good for the world, which perhaps increases your meaning in life and connection with other people.”
Recently, research surfaced that listening to Christmas songs might negatively affect your mental health. Let’s not be hasty – we’re not deleting Mariah from our playlists just yet (we challenge you to listen to "All I Want For Christmas" and not feel pumped about the festive season!). But if shopping centre Christmas music on a loop has you feeling like you’re in Jingle Hell, maybe it’s time to pop on an apron and get baking!
Sydney-based Hannah Oakshott is a tea-obsessed pop culture enthusiast who can usually be found showing people pictures of her two miniature schnauzers or baking sweet, lemony food. Hannah is on Instagram @hannah.mareeee