Baking sweet treats or heart-healthy foods has become a way for people to become less stressed or to be a "mood picker-upper," as some people would say, for those who bake the food as well as for those who eat it. What many people do not realize is that there is actually some science behind the reasons why baking for others makes us feel better and why getting creative in the kitchen can help elevate our moods.
According to recent studies, getting in the kitchen and being creative with what you make can help you feel more satisfied and happier overall. It takes us away from the busyness of life for just a few minutes and allows us to slow down and remember the sweet moments. Here are some of the scientific reasons why baking can be so good for our mental health.
Baking can help you learn how to meditate
Baking requires you to put all of your energy and focus into what you are doing, and studies have shown that anything that requires you to put all of your energy and attention into it can help relax you. The easier and more repetitive that the activity is, the more relaxed you will find yourself becoming. The process of baking and doing things like leveling flour and sugar scoops, cracking eggs into a bowl, beating ingredients together, etc. are all calming activities that can help your mind go into a meditative mode and eases away any negative thoughts.
Being creative with pastries helps you have positive thoughts
Experts in mental health have found that doing something creative helps people feel happier. Baking allows people to get creative by experimenting with different ingredients, different color icing, making new shapes, or creating a new pastry or baked goods altogether, etc. This type of creativity directly corresponds to positive psychological functions; in other words, start baking new things to express yourself and see how happy it makes you feel!
Baking is therapeutic
Baking has been found to be so good for your mental health that even some treatment centers have begun to use it as a form of therapy. Baking is considered therapy because it has been proven to help relieve a great deal of stress from one's shoulders. Beyond that, those who bake with others have better social skills and form stronger bonds, the memory, and cognitive functions improve. Creating baked goods also helps to increase your ability to plan ahead, for example when several steps need to be done very quickly you have to train your brain to think ahead and figure out the best way to do so. It helps train your brain to be more organized and keep things in a certain order so your baking project can be done smoothly step by step. Some therapists have found that baking is so beneficial for your mental health that it can go as far as helping you to boost your self-esteem and builds your confidence every time a new creation turns out better than you imagined.
Baking goodies and sharing them with others can bring you joy
There is just something about trying your hand at a new recipe and being able to share the end result with other people that gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment that you just cannot find anywhere else. This sense of joy and pride comes from being able to please your loved ones or give someone something you have worked hard on that they can benefit from. Trying to bake something and decorate it in a particular way, especially if it is something you have never attempted before, and then seeing it come out of the oven and working on it until it looks absolutely perfect is a daunting task. It can feel intimidating to try something like this that you have never tried before, and even more intimidating if other people than just yourself are going to be seeing and eating what you baked. However, the feeling of success that you feel when everything goes the way that it is supposed too is hard to beat.
Sharing the baked goods that you worked so hard on can bring you a lot of joy, and there is so much satisfaction and pride that stems from not knowing if you can do something, then seeing yourself exceed your own expectations. Even more fulfilling will be when you get to enjoy the finished product with the ones you love and experience the joy and gratitude together. There is nothing that brings more joy than sharing something you are proud of with those you love and seeing them enjoy it as much as you do.
All of your senses are heightened when you bake which is good for your mental health
The truth is that on a daily basis you go through the motions of your day and do not pay attention to everything that you see around you, you probably do not smell all of the smells in your environment and more than likely block out the sounds that you do not care to hear or that are not important to you. However, when you start to bake things in your kitchen, you start to open up a whole new world for your senses. You notice more of the sweet aromas when you have cookies coming out of the oven, you enjoy the sticky feel of the dough as it smashes between your fingers while you knead it.
Baking appeals to all five of your senses and really wakes them all up which in turn causes the good endorphins in the brain to start firing. When we take the time to step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and shut off the screens by getting our hands dirty in sugar and flour, you will find yourself smelling things and tasting baked goods more deeply than ever.
Baking can reawaken each one of our senses: sight, taste, sound, smell, and feeling which can make the experience more enjoyable as well as take us back to happy memories of our pasts that we may have stored away otherwise.
Baking puts you in control of a situation which helps improve the mental health for those with mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression
Aside from necessities like eggs and flour, you get to choose exactly what types of flavors you want to put into your baked goods and how much of each flavor you want in there. You have the freedom to create whatever you want and make the end result look just like you want it to look. This is therapeutic for those who feel as though they have very little control in their day to day lives and gives them a place to find that control in at least one place which in turn promotes freedom in the mind.
Learning to bake for yourself and for the people you love is a great way to take care of your mental health. It allows your brain to relax, gives you somewhere to escape, challenges your brain to come up with new creative ideas, and brings you joy when sharing with others. Baking is a great way to promote mental health!