There are very few hobbies capable of soothing the mind and satisfying the soul. Baking belongs to the handful. After all, there’s nothing quite like coming home to the scent of coffee cake or the sight of a plateful of freshly baked cookies.
Culinary Arts Therapy
Culinary art therapy, often referred to as CAT, uses cooking as a means of therapeutic expression. It serves as an outlet for individuals who need an emotional outlet. As a meticulous form of preparation, baking requires immense concentration. As such, the nature of the focused activity helps in the redirection of thoughts—a subconscious form of therapy.
In a recent study, researchers have used a combination of CAT and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help those dealing with grief. The results of the research were positive and suggested CAT can help limit the complications which come with loss.
Baking can be a profoundly personal experience. Historically, women have been the designated domestic goddesses of the household, with the kitchen covering most of their domain. Over time, however, the culinary arts has grown to be more inclusive and all-encompassing. Cooking—and baking—has become more than a chore. Passion fuels baking. For some, it’s become a livelihood; for others, a form of empowerment. In some cases, baking has become a way to de-stress. Remember, “Everyone handles positive and negative stress differently. And yes, for some, positive stress can lead to a negative response to stress, depending on the situation.” says Jessica Harris, LCPC, LPC.
Baking can be advantageous for improving emotional health and has been known to help people deal with their depression or anxiety. “The physical act of baking,” according to Julia Ponsonby, author of The Art of Mindful Baking, “the way that you knead bread, for example, takes your mind out of the intellectual and connects you to your body.”
Benefits Of Baking
“Cooking helps mental health in that it can be a creative outlet. It’s a way to channel energy, can be used as a distraction, help build mastery in a skill, and a way to express emotions through a different medium.” Counselor Nicole Lambert said. Same as baking which provides a sense of relief. It channels all the negative thoughts and energy and transforms it into positive output. Overall, baking has several benefits we’ve listed below:
- Provides an outlet for self-expression. Baking allows you to push your limits and explore uncharted territories. Much like writing, painting, or music, it opens up your mind to new things and endless possibilities—in terms of recipes, decorations, you name it!
- Improves singular focus. Baking is like science. The process requires strict adherence to the recipe, thus honing one’s diligence. Its repetitive actions and feelings of being in control help you keep calm. On the other hand, working through each step of the recipe enables you to tune out the anxious thoughts. “For someone who battles negative thoughts, worries, and is constantly bombarded with doubt, fear, shame, cooking can be a healthy outlet to bring peace and serenity into their headspace.” Justyna Wawrzonek, LCSW, LADC, said.
- Sense of accomplishment. Think of it as a task or project, and the end product is a meal. Even if the outcome doesn’t taste as good as you expect, consider it a win. Knowing you began and completed the process all on your own is a perfect example of you working towards and attaining a goal.
4. Calming effect of the smell. The scent of freshly baked goods provides the same kind of satisfaction aromatherapy does.
5. Sense of self and others. Baking for both yourself and the people around you is a form of mindfulness. It creates opportunities to interact and spend time with others. It’s a cultural norm to give food as a sign of welcome to the neighborhood. You may also offer baked goods as a token of appreciation or a form of condolence.
What are you waiting for? Grab your bowl and apron. Ready, get set, whisk!