Spending time on small, everyday creative tasks such as baking or cooking is considered therapeutic; it leads to greater happiness, enthusiasm and a relaxed state of mind. A study, results of which were published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in January 2016, suggests that people who frequently engage in small, creative activities are more likely to experience feelings of positive psychological health which continue into subsequent days.
As part of the study, researchers monitored 658 people for 13 days. Participants had to maintain daily records, in diaries, of the time spent on creative activities and the resultant positive or negative effect on their mood. The researchers found that engaging in creative tasks not only made the participants feel happier, they also felt they were “flourishing,” a psychological term denoting feelings of personal growth. This implies that the feel-good factor of activities such as baking a fresh batch of cookies is likely to spill over into the next day, increasing the chances of the individual to continue pursuing them.
Dr. Tamlin S. Conner, a psychologist with the University of Otago in New Zealand and lead author on the study, states that there is increasing acknowledgment among psychological researchers of a link between creativity and emotional functioning but most of the research is based on how emotions affect creativity and not the other way round.
According to an old study, published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, semi-structured interview of 12 mental health service users analyzed their viewpoints on engaging in the activity of baking. The researchers found that baking provided participants with a sense of purpose and meaning, and led to a meaningful use of their free time and structured daily routine. Being involved in baking improved participants’ attentiveness, increased their coordination skills and made them confident, leading to a heightened sense of self-esteem. Participants also benefited from the opportunity of creating something new and then being able to keep it or share it with others.
John Whaite, winner of the 2012 television baking competition “The Great British Bake Off,” was detected with manic depression years before he participated in the show. A key element of his condition was lack of control. Baking provided him with an opportunity to be in control in the kitchen while undertaking small activities as part of the baking process, such as exactly weighing ingredients or adjusting the oven temperature to the right degree. Whaite believes that converting negative energies from mental disorders into something constructive in the kitchen can do wonders for an individual’s emotional well-being.
Mental illness or emotional turmoil can leave individuals isolated or alienated, leading to feelings of detachment from society or the zest to live. It is likely that baking in social settings can help individuals in overcoming such feelings. Baking diverts attention from mental distress by providing a set of activities or goals which require individuals to be consciously focused and coordinated. Moreover, an activity such as baking a cake or cookies is considered deeply fulfilling since the end-result is shared with others.
Baking may be an effective therapeutic tool but it cannot be the only treatment option for mental health issues. Baking is effective in managing the symptoms or consequences of mental illness but not in dealing with their causes. It is difficult to quantify or measure the impact of baking and other forms of occupational therapies in providing full recovery. Occupational therapy is usually recommended in conjunction with other treatment options such as psychotherapy, medication or residential programs.
Mental disorders can seriously impact a person’s quality of life. It is crucial for such individuals to get immediate help. If you know someone suffering from mental health illnesses, contact the Colorado Mental Health Help representatives who can guide you with information on a wide range of mental health treatment centers in Colorado offering evidence-based treatment. Call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 899-5063 or chat online with our experts for advice on the best mental health rehab in Colorado.