Came across this article yesterday, Feeling Stressed? Baking Can Make It Better., and I felt it was definitely worth a share. I was already a firm believer that baking makes one happy (as evidenced by my photo with caption and tags from two years ago…) at least for me personally, so, it’s interesting to see that scientists in the UK did a study on the subject.
It doesn’t mean that baking has to be your go-to thing for de-stressing and happiness, but it, among other things have been proven to help with stress. Exercise, cooking, painting, etc. are other activities. Personally I don’t find cooking to be a de-stresser, if I’m preparing a meal. I find it hectic and nothing but stress. However, if I make one item, the way you would bake one item, then I do find it rather enjoyable. But, I have been known to bake multiple things at the same time, only they are all recipes that I’m comfortable with and could make in my sleep. Trying to bake more than one new dessert is not a stress reliever for me.
This is not really a blog about topics that aren’t food related, but since they mentioned exercise, I’ll just go ahead and say that for the most part, that is not something that I enjoy…at all, and I don’t find makes me happy, save for a very few exceptions; swimming and sometimes hiking. But the hiking portion has to be when it’s not hotter than Mordor and the scenery is lovely. And we don’t really live in a place where there is much hiking to be had, but thankfully we know people with a pool. Besides in this temperature range, swimming is a better option than hiking anyways.
But, I digress. So, baking makes you happy. I had never really thought beyond myself and my personal feelings when it came to this matter, nor why it might make me happy, but I can see the correlation with control that is mentioned in the article. Not the ‘I am Loki, I have control, now kneel before me’ type of control, but the ‘I’m spinning around all mell-pell and need to re-group’ type of control. It does bring a sense of calm, and a sense of center in the fact that I am asserting control over my own actions, because there are set rules to follow.
I suppose doing a Sun Salutation in Yoga or practicing Tai Chi elicit the same response… if that’s your thing. It reminds me of Buddhist Monks or Japanese sayings about following a simple task all the way to completion and doing a thorough job. So, there can be meditation in the simple act of sweeping the floor. Baking, exercise, painting, etc. are forms of active meditation, which means that they are actions where you can get into the flow of it and let your mind go free; which is something I far prefer to just sitting on the floor, being completely still and freeing my mind, which is meditation that most people think of.
I think one should find the active meditation that works for them, but of course I would encourage a type of cookery; especially if you’re the person who is drawn towards baking and cooking, but make excuses for why you can’t; like that it’s too difficult, or you could never be as good as so and so, or what have you. Just about anyone can find joy in either baking or cooking if they let themself. Some people find it daunting because they don’t know where to start. Just start simple. Even cracking an egg and mixing in some oil into a boxed mix can be meditative and gratifying. You don’t have to make a chocolate soufflé on your first go. Hell, I haven’t even tackled one of those yet! You could then move onto a simple cookie recipe (no cut outs, no fancy icing or frosting). Or if it’s cooking that’s more your style, start simple with an easy soup or casserole and then work your way up to that rack of lamb.
As with anything, you must start out small and easy and work up to more difficult tasks. Even if you wanted to improve your zen, you wouldn’t sweep the floor and then immediately re-roof the house; you’d simply continue to sweep the floors until it became second nature to you, and then you could move on to wiping the counters or raking the yard.
So, go bake some cookies of whip up a batch of homemade RKT’s (Rice Krispies treats), or pull together that savoury soup you’ve always wanted to cook. Start small, breathe, have fun, and remember all is well. Even if it doesn’t turn out pretty or edible, just remember it’s fine (trust me, it’s happened to me loads of times). You can always try again.