“Stress-baking” is a thing, and you guessed it—it’s baking to relieve stress. Contrary to what you’ve seen from Bon Apetit’s Clair Saffitz, who actively expresses her frustrations in YouTube videos, psychologists attest that baking has several stress-relieving benefits. It’s like the slime trend from younger generations, except you end up with pastry afterward.
Baking relieves stress because it triggers parts of the brain that respond with the production of dopamine and serotonin. It’s also a form of expression and connecting with others, which leads to a feeling of satisfaction once everything’s baked.
Baking and altruism
Baking for other people is an excellent way of showing love, care, and affection. We bake a cake for a birthday. We bake cookies to offer to friends. We bake cupcakes as a gift on Valentine’s Day. It seems like a go-to means of communication and expression of feelings.
Studies show that gift-giving has mental and physical health benefits. Spending money on others makes people happier than when they spend money on themselves. In line with this, giving gifts triggers pleasure in our brains, resulting in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Additionally, this causes “helper’s high,” the result of endorphins coming from the area of the brain responsible for feeling rewarded.
Baking is experimentation. Bakers always look for ways to make their bread or pastry taste better. It takes them hundred of tries before they find the right balance of everything. It’s so far from easy, especially because baking is science. Hence, a slight variation in measurement may throw off the entire recipe. Bakers also have to find contrast in flavors (e.g., salt brings out sweetness).
Other than the taste, bakers are artists of their own when it comes to presentation. They try to convey their feelings through the appearance of their product, like writing “Happy Birthday” on a birthday cake.
Creative expression is known to reduce stress and improve mental health. It’s even likened to meditation because of its calming effects. When a person draws, writes, or engages in music, their brain produces dopamine, which is known as the happy hormone. Additionally, finding a creative way to express one’s emotion has been known to promote healing because of how abstract and often unfathomable emotions become tangible, making them more comfortable to deal with.
Several things are satisfying when baking:
- Flattening the top of the measuring cup.
- The swirl it makes when you pour the chocolate into a batter in an industrial mixer.
- Watching the batter rise and then fall in the oven.
- The smell of everything mixing.
- Squeezing out icing and turning it into fun shapes.
Most of all, nothing beats the joy and glory out of taking a bite from something you made. If other people love your baking, it’s a plus, too. The fact that everything turned out well is ultimately rewarding.
It’s time to give baking a try.
When you bake, you will not only be making dessert, but you will also feel more rewarded. Baking makes you happier and closer to the people you love.