Caught a baking bug? Good! (Get started with the perfect recipes for a fall bake sale.) If you can’t keep out of your kitchen, you now have a pretty good excuse: Baking has loads of psychological perks, experts say.
For starters, baking provides an opportunity for creativity and self-expression, which research shows increases overall well-being. “Whether it’s painting or it’s making music [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves,” associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, Donna Pincus, told HuffPost.
It’s also a form of meditation and mindfulness, which means it forces you to focus on the present task. All of the activities involved for baking—measuring ingredients, following step-by-step instructions, and concentrating on smell and taste—require you to discard negative thoughts and be productive, instead. And in addition to being a good skill to learn, mindfulness has also been shown to relieve depression and mental illness. Try even more ways to sneak mindfulness into your everyday life.
Plus, giving away what you baked to someone else increases those feel-good vibes. Since baking is an act of giving and selflessness above all, it boosts your sense of meaning and connection with others.
“The most benefits would accrue when you bake not to seek attention or to out-do others, but when you just want to share the food with people who you believe will appreciate it,” Susan Whitbourne, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts, told HuffPost.
Of course, those who feel anxious and stressed while baking probably won’t reap any of the positive benefits listed here. If that’s the case for you, find other activities that bring you a sense of joy and relaxation, such as exercise or reading a book. Psychologists agree: Baking should be enjoyable, or not done at all. Just make sure you’re not making these 12 disastrous baking mistakes that even the most experienced bakers make.