can baking bread help anxiety

Anxiety: My Baking Relief

can baking bread help anxiety
Updated on
July 19, 2022
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

Like many people I’ve come to realise that I suffer from anxiety. It comes in periods, often caused by work or social pressure, probably caused by my ADHD. Recently I have noticed that baking bread is a great way to deal with my anxiety, but is baking bread good for anxiety?

A disclaimer:

I am not a health professional, these thoughts are entirely my own based on my experiences. If you are struggling with your mental health you should reach out to your doctor and get trained help.

Why I suffer from anxiety

There’s usually something in my life that I just don’t know how to deal with. Previous I underwent a 6-month secondment at work. The promise was that if I do well, I’ll get the role. It’s been hell. Bring constantly “offered support” or “given development feedback” and all those buzz words. I felt more under pressure to succeed. More anxious!

Previous reasons have been struggling with relationships, money, running a business and feeling like I’ve not achieved enough in life.

How anxiety impacts me

It wasn’t until the past 12 months that I realised that I do struggle with anxiety. Before this, I thought it was normal to feel the need for two bottles of wine after a crap day. As I’ve matured and like many I have tried to move away from the traditional British drinking culture, replacing it with the gym.

But without drinking alcohol these nerves hit me whilst enduring a stressful period. They caused me to write off entire days. Once I realised that I suffer from anxiety I could do something to make it better.

How bread baking helps with anxiety

When we bake bread it involves a lot of focus. Centring my mind into something constructive helps to calm me down. Watching dough rise quietly on the worktop is a beautiful sight to see, and working with my hands is also fantastically calming. The smells of freshly baked bread are also beautifully relaxing, is there a better smell? Once the bread has cooled I love that satisfaction of eating something that I made myself.

My top tips on dealing with anxiety

  • Don’t touch alcohol. This prolongs the feeling and makes you feel a lot worse the following day. You can’t reflect properly, nor sleep so it’s best avoided at all costs.
  • Allow some reflection time. Take some time out to think about your problem. How can it be resolved or be better managed?
  • Do you need to approach life or relationships a different way? Letting people down is a big cause of anxiety for many people. Consider putting the pressure away from you and onto others? Could you ask for support?
  • Have honest conversations with those around you about your problems. Be it a partner, friend or work colleague, chances are if you are open with them they will support you.
  • Do some rewarding light exercise. This is where kneading dough comes in for me. Slapping dough around for 10-15 minutes is good exercise. It combines strengthening my arm muscles with a bit of aerobic exercise.

I think it’s important to look at all the tips when trying to deal with anxiety. If bread baking does excite you then check out my beginner’s bread recipe

Suffering from anxiety is tough, I’m proud to say I often struggle. It’s a lot more common than I was previously led to believe. In some ways, caring about what I’m doing is probably a good thing. But life is much better when you can chill out and just get on with things!

How do you find bread baking helps you with your mental health? Let me know in the comments below.

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Gareth Busby

Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baking coach, head baker and bread-baking fanatic! My aim is to use science, techniques and 15 years of baking experience to help you become a better baker.

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