This week, The New York Times ran a post on inmates at Rikers Island who bake carrot cake for the cafeteria.
The Times doesn't make a direct correlation between baking and therapy among the inmates, but it reminded me that baking is often a therapeutic act.
I'm pretty high-strung and whenever I'm really upset about something, baking is one of the few things that actually calms me down. A quick Google search for "baking therapy" yields 1.7 million hits, including a handful of blogs on this very topic ... which, anecdotally at least, suggests I'm not alone.
Even if I go for a walk or draw a bath, I remain fixated on the issue at hand. I admit getting outdoors usually helps, but not as much as baking.
I suppose the preciseness of it has something to do with it. As I'm measuring flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and cinnamon, my mind -- at least momentarily -- is off whatever was troubling me. Plus, I end up taking most baked goods to work, so I can also think about how happy my coworkers will be when I show up with a surprise batch of brownies or the like.
A story from the UK's Daily Express in March highlights the therapeutic effects of baking and says the hobby is popular again among young people.
A behavioral psychologist told the paper:
"The act of baking with all its smells and tastes is associated with nostalgia and can evoke really joyful memories. Little wonder then that baking is proving so popular and that the recent study by (baking brand) Dr. Oetker shows that the process of creating something delicious to share with friends and family can provide the kind of confidence boost you might ordinarily associate with finding the perfect pair of jeans or a promotion at work."
What about you? Do you find baking therapeutic?
Image via thebittenword.com/Flickr