How It Helps Me Cope


Are you
feeling like an autumn leaf caught in a tornado right now? You are far from
alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as people know it, and many folks
are battling unprecedented levels of anxiety at the moment. 

One ritual
that never fails to soothe me is getting in the kitchen and donning my baking
apron. The room itself is my happy place, and the act of making something to
delight my family helps me feel productive and useful when I’m not sure what else
to do. Here’s what I get from my routine and how you can benefit, too. 

Baking Gives You a Sense of Control 

You can’t
control much right now, and neither can I. Our employers may choose to cut
hours or shutter their doors entirely. The federal government may or may not
provide all the help we need to make it through the current pandemic. This
disease may blow over by next month, or we could be staring at a new, more solo
reality for an extended period. 

Psychologists
describe both an internal and external locus of control, and which one you
embrace during challenging times influences your mental health. People with an
internal locus of control look inward. They feel that they exert more control over their world, while those with an external locus look
at factors outside of themselves as determining their destiny. Neither one is
best for all situations. 

For
example, let’s say you recently experienced a layoff because the government
instructed your employer to close temporarily. If you rely purely on an
internal locus of control, you produce self-talk like, ‘If only I had taken a
different position, I’d have more security now.” However, you had no way of
knowing this pandemic would occur. Even world leaders didn’t grasp the
magnitude of the impact. It’s healthy to realize that sometimes, circumstances
remain beyond your control. 

However,
blaming everything on factors that you can’t control can increase anxiety
because you feel like, no matter what you do, your life might dissolve into
chaos, anyway. This pressure to fight an unending battle can lead to feelings
of despair and overwhelm. You think, “What’s the point?” 

That’s
where baking comes into play for me. While I can’t control the fact that I’m
getting a touch more family time than I might like right now, I can control my
reaction to my circumstances. Baking a cake with my eldest generates feelings
of love between us and banishes resentment. Seeing the smiles on my family’s face
when I delight them with one of my creations reminds me not only of how much I
love them, but also that I possess the power to create good in this
world. 

Baking Engages My Creativity 

Exercising
your creativity is a critical component of overall wellness. I love to
experiment with non-traditional flavor combinations. For example, one of my
hubby’s favorites are smoked maple bacon cupcakes — who would have thought of blending breakfast with
dessert? 

Like most
kids, my girls love sweets. Vegetables? Not so much. Baking provides a way that
I can get them their recommended servings of greens without them having a
meltdown. Who has the patience to deal with tantrums in these uncertain times?
However, both of my darling little ones will gleefully eat zucchini and chocolate cranberry muffins as long as I remain mum about phytonutrients. 

Baking Is a Soothing, Mindful Activity 

Mindfulness
is a fabulous practice. It can halt the racing thoughts that accompany anxiety
in their tracks because it takes you out of rumination mode and focuses you on
the present moment. It also helps you revel in the joy of everyday
activities. 

Before I
set out my ingredients, I prime my mind and body
and set an intention. I sit down and take a minute or two to reflect on what I
want to make and why. I take deep, cleansing breaths and express mental
gratitude that I have a kitchen in which to cook and nourishing food to
prepare. As I proceed through the steps in the recipe, I take time to savor
little moments, like the flavor of the batter on my tongue. As I arrange the
cupcakes on a tray, I decorate each one with the care — if not entirely the
skill — of a French chef. 

Baking Helps Me Nurture Those I Love 

Finally, in
tumultuous times, it’s critical to remember who genuinely matters to you.
Without the family that we love, what is the purpose of life, anyway? Baking
provides me with a concrete way to say, “I love you” to those I care for the
most. 

Baking also
serves as a way for me to love myself. When people think about self-care, they
tend to visualize a luxurious spa. However, self-care merely entails any activity we deliberately do to benefit our physical, mental or emotional health.
Taking a walk qualifies if you do so to lower your blood pressure or calm down
from a tense situation. So does baking a cake.

Baking Helps Me Cope With Anxiety — Could It Help You, Too? 

If you are
feeling capsized by a wave of anxiety right now, you are far from alone. Baking
helps me to navigate times of uncertainty, and it might help you, too. The next
time you feel overwhelmed by a fight-or-flight response, take a deep breath,
tie on your apron and get out your flour. 





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