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Bake Well Being: Baking for Your Well-being

This month, I teamed up with Ella from Bake Well Being to talk about baking and how it improves your mental health. I love baking - especially the eating of baked goods! - and I thought what better way of finding comfort in these colder and darker months than doing some baking (and eating!). Here's some inspiration to help...

My name’s Ella and two of my greatest passions in life are baking and supporting mental health awareness. I’ve always felt an important part of my one chance at life is to encourage positive change, and last year I realised that combining the two was a perfect way to achieve this! After pitching my idea in the University of Greenwich Enterprise Challenge and winning the Social Category in 2020, I decided to pursue this dream as my next step following graduating from my Events Management Degree. Since then, I have become a qualified Mental Health First Aider and am now working towards completing my Wellness and Resilience Coach Diploma.

When I was asked to write this blog, I wondered where I should start and where exactly did my love of baking actually begin. When I started to think about it, I realised that baking has always been part of my life and I have felt intrinsically linked with it since I was very young. When I was around 2 my Nan introduced me to this new activity as something for us to do together while she was looking after me. I couldn’t do much at this age but I would help to stir the mixture into the bowl, often getting into a right mess, and then lick the glorious raw mixture that was left after the bakes had been popped into the oven. As I got older I remember getting more involved and coming in from school, grabbing my apron, washing my hands and asking my Nan what we could bake today: this could be anything from 12 fairy cakes to a loaf of bread or even an apple and blackberry pie! I used to love everything about it, the whole process, almost like a ritual, from collecting all the ingredients from the cupboards, to measuring them out according to the recipe, to organising all the utensils, putting the oven on and getting busy.

I loved to hear my mum come in from work and say “something smells nice” and then I would present her with whatever we had made and she would devour whatever it was, hungry from a long day at work and ready to be comforted with some home-made bakes. This continued for many years and then at age 15 I got my first Saturday job, and this was in a gorgeous bakery shop called Pink Icing Company. It was pure joy working there, making cakes for all occasions (and sometimes getting to help decorate them too) while also selling everything you could imagine to make these creations. I used to love opening the boxes that came in on a daily basis and looking at all the new merchandise from icing, to baking tins to bright edible flowers to decorate the cakes with. These experiences were how my love for baking and all it entails grew into what has now become my passion project, Bake Well Being.

While baking has been part of me since I was small, I have also always been interested in supporting mental health awareness and I have felt that it is important to encourage positive change in the chance I get to have at life. Last year I realised that combining the two would be a perfect way to achieve this. After pitching my idea in the University of Greenwich Enterprise Challenge and winning for Social Category in 2020, I decided to pursue this dream as my next step following graduating from my Events Management Degree.

I truly believe that baking has healing powers and that if anyone can bake (true fact) then everyone can look after their mental health! Baking provides a creative release as well as practical skill development and a sense of accomplishment from creating something by hand and from scratch – which does wonders for our self-esteem and confidence! It is even better when you get to enjoy it as a reward to yourself or share your creations with the people you love.

Over the years I have seen the joy that presenting people with bakes can bring first hand. An example of this was on for Valentine’s Day 2021 when I launched my first treat boxes that people could order and we hand delivered them to their loved ones. These boxes consisted of a variety of heart and love themed bakes and sweet treats, with handwritten notes. That day was such a happy day, there was a lot of hard work involved and tired hands and feet but seeing people’s faces when a box of edible love was dropped off to them as a surprise was one of the happiest days that I can remember. It proves time and time again that cakes and love go a long way to brightening up the day for many people and I vowed to do this every year and have since done Mother’s Day and Easter Boxes, all which bring as much joy and delight as the occasion before!

Baking for a loved one is such a special way to show those you care for how much you appreciate them, to say thank you, or just to treat them to something nice. It can be inexpensive to do but the value is found in the time, dedication and thought behind the gifted bake. Not only is it a sure way to make them smile but it is also super rewarding for the baker and you get all the benefits and those sweet happy hormones from actually making the time in your day to bake. A sure win, win situation every time!

Baking as a healthy alternative to shop bought treats is something else that everyone can benefit from. Time and time again you find that the shop bought treats from the Supermarket shelves are all packed with raising agents, emulsifiers, and gelling agents (just to name a few) but going homemade cuts out all the added chemicals and is actually almost healthy in comparison!

Here is a short list of some of the many benefits of baking for our mental health:

· Treat myself and others to a carefully made, delicious bake

· To feel a sense of achievement

· To escape from the outside world for a few hours

· To make someone smile with a handmade gift

· To enjoy a creative release

· To develop practical skills

· To face fear foods or to reintroduce them

· Improve confidence and self-worth

· To quiet the mind

· To ease anxiety

· To use as a distraction technique

· To give your brain a break

· To connect with others

· To learn new things

This list above could go on and on and I am sure that you can think of some of your own to add to it!

Maybe if you have some extra time on your hands at the weekend, why not try baking for your well-being! I would highly recommend it for a creative and enjoyable challenge that will leave you feeling very proud and rewarded! Check out the Bake Well Being YouTube tutorials for step-by-step visual guides to a range of bakes and the @bakewellbeing Instagram page for some inspiration!

Let’s get talking, baking and eating cake for our mental health!

- Ella from Bake Well Being

I hope this helps,

Shareen x

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