In my quest to find a new topic to write about for this week’s post, I stumbled upon another article on baking therapy (by way of my father, because he sends me every article he comes across that has anything to do with an oven). Initially, I was not interested because I thought I’d read everything I needed to about baking therapy for my previous post, but this article has an interesting new angle I hadn’t considered before. It addressed all the benefits that come with the action of baking and using it as a tool to facilitate mindfulness practices, as I have previously discussed, but it also expanded on the benefits that stem from baking for other people.
The Huffington Post article my father sent me, “Psychologists Explain The Benefits Of Baking For Other People,” cites Boston University Professor Donna Pincus to emphasize the idea that baking with the intention of giving your product to others can add to the already therapeutic act of baking because of the positive, fulfilling feelings that often come with altruistic acts. She argues that baking and sharing it with people can make someone feel a sense of purpose in a way that can strongly supplement the relaxation that one can experience through tactile activities. Also, as much as it would help you feel fulfilled, sharing baked goods with people could very well be the highlight of their day so baking for others can be mentally/emotionally beneficial to all that are involved.
Julie Ohana, a living, breathing culinary art therapist (because that is an actual job title now?!), is cited later in the article and she believes that baking for others is so effective because it helps you lose yourself in what you’re doing. More of your energy is going into thinking about things like getting all the measurements right and planning how you will present your creation to the recipients which, according to Ohana, means that baking provides us with both meticulous tasks to focus on and bigger-picture planning that requires a certain amount of forethought, allowing us to be more present and mindful while we execute a recipe.
Before reading this article, I had never made the distinction between how baking for myself feels versus baking for my loved ones but, in retrospect, it is only fulfilling when you are able to share what you’ve made with other people. I had only ever considered the actual act of baking to be what helped me relax, and practice mindfulness, because I have always been very aware of my need for tactile stimulation, but I have never thought about how baking for my friends has added to the experience.
Food, in general, has the power to comfort and heal us in times of distress but, if baking for our loved ones can help us cope with day-to-day life in a way that is constructive, I think that should be incentive enough to encourage people to reconnect with their kitchens. Even a simple batch of brownies can be enough to brighten up the day (especially if we are talking about my famous brownie recipe).
If you find baking to be more stressful than it is soothing, baking may not be the best coping mechanism for you; however, based on my own personal experience, you should take solace in the fact that some people can experience peak satisfaction from being offered something as simple as a Pillsbury sugar cookie. My roommates are no exception; however, I’d die before I willingly choose to make anything with boxed dough, so you could say they are lucky to have me around.