The Great British Bake Off will be returning to our screens tomorrow night, so grab your apron, ingredients and whack the oven on pre-heat.
We all know that spending a little time in the kitchen can result in some extra tasty outcomes, but did you also know that baking can provide mental health benefits too? In fact, one in three Brits turn to baking to help them de-stress after a busy day at work, while 61% said that sharing their baked goods with others makes them feel happy.
We’ve asked the specialists from Delamere to identify how baking cakes, cookies, bread and other delicious treats can help you ease anxiety and stress.
Baking can reduce stress and anxiety
Calming, rewarding, and providing focus, baking can be a great way to help you de-stress and reduce anxiety. Baking is proven to help lower our stress hormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine. High levels of stress hormones can cause sleep problems, low immunity, high blood pressure and more. When the levels of stress hormones are reduced, you’re simultaneously minimising the anxiety and stress that your body is exposed to.
Many people already find everyday household chores like washing the dishes, sweeping the floor or preparing vegetables relaxing and a way of quietening their minds. A study confirmed that individuals who participate in small creative projects like cooking and baking feel more enthusiastic about their activities the next day.
Baking can boost self-confidence
While everyone has doubts about themselves from time to time, low self-esteem can leave you lacking in confidence and enthusiasm. When you bake for yourself or other people, you’re setting an achievable goal for yourself. ‘Behavioural activation’ is a therapy used to treat those suffering from anxiety and depression; this method is a way to combat doubt and low mood by increasing productivity in a realistic and achievable way.
Accomplishing something in the kitchen can help raise your self-esteem, as it is a positive outcome of your hard work and dedication.
When receiving praise and feedback for your baked goods, this will help to outweigh the self-critical thoughts you experience throughout the day. This can help you feel more confident and more able to tackle bigger and smaller challenges in your life.
Baking can improve creativity
Tapping into your creative energy can reduce anxiety, depression, stress and improve your overall mental and physical health. The average person has over 6,000 thoughts per day; a creative activity such as baking can help focus the mind by calming the brain and body.
Creativity goes beyond making you happy in the present. It also is an effective way to reduce the symptoms of dementia, improves memory and cognitive abilities. Your memory improves when you become more imaginative, so get creative with baking by adding colour, texture and decorative features.
Baking can help build relationships
Group participation in baking activities can help build social growth through shared interests and common goals. Baking can help develop someone’s ability to mix socially, make friends and learn skills that will help them to interact more effectively.
Baking with family, friends or organised groups can provide individuals with the opportunity to connect with others, reducing feelings of isolation and exclusion. Isolation isn’t healthy as it can trigger or deepen feelings of depression. When we are feeling down, baking with others can transform those negative feelings back into a positive state.
The feelings of safety, trust and belonging increase when socialising with friends and family. These emotions can help form a strong and healthy relationship. Individuals can still feel a sense of support and belonging when virtually sharing a slice of cake or cup of tea.
Baking is great for physical health
Being physically active has been shown to reduce stress, anger, depression and improve overall mental and physical health. Not only does baking help emotionally, but it helps contribute to physical wellbeing by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and production of stress hormones.
From rolling out pastry to kneading the dough, baking and cleaning up afterwards can be a real workout and calorie-burner. In fact, you can burn more than 200 calories by wiping down the surfaces of your countertops.