Science Says Baking Can Help Reduce Stress Related to the Coronavirus Pandemic


Relieve your anxiety while making something delicious.

This article originally appeared on Martha Stewart.
Many people are taking up new hobbies to fill their time during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most popular pastimes has become baking, including baking sourdough bread, whipping up a batch of homemade cookies, or making a quick bread, like the Streusel Banana Bread pictured here. Now psychologists are saying that baking—specifically, baking bread—can be good for the soul during times of national crisis. While this may not come as a shock to anyone with a serious sweet tooth, the mental health benefits associated with baking can be profound.

"With baking bread, there's a lot of physicalities. Kneading of the dough and getting it into the right shape can help you relieve some tension," Elizabeth McKay, author of the study and associate professor of occupational therapy at Edinburgh Napier University, told CNN. Plus the process of patiently waiting for the bread to rise over the course of a couple of hours can help home bakers to feel a sense of delayed gratification. While coronavirus plagues the nation, it's important to remember that there will be an end, even if it seems out of reach at the moment.

"There's a period of waiting that I think is very symbolic of the waiting we're collectively doing," says Michael Kocet, a licensed mental health counselor and professor and department chair of the Counselor Education Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Plus, it's important to maintain a hobby to distract you from work and the constant 24-hour news cycle that can often be negative or depressing. Baking is a way to fill your time, relax, and ultimately feel a sense of accomplishment. Kocet adds that baking can give us something concrete to create, control, and enjoy when we have the finished product. That can help reduce the anxiety stemming from the unfamiliarity of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

"I enjoy the fact that bread making is a slow process, which goes against the rapid lives that we live normally," Jessica Corradini of Verona, Italy, told CNN. "Making bread is slow and engaging. Having time and energy to dedicate to this hobby is a privilege."

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