Bread therapy: life, loss and mindful baking
Season’s greetings baking fans!
Whilst the festive period can be a lot of fun, it can also be a challenge: the expectations (or the ones we perceive), the pressure we put on ourselves to have everything perfect for just one day (anyone else feel a sudden need on 30 November to start that DIY project you’ve been putting off for the best part of a year because it absolutely must be done for Christmas?) and just the general stress of organising cards, presents and, lovely as it is, trying to find a date to catch up with every single member of your extended family and friendship circle between mid-November and the new year…and don’t even get me started on managing school yuletide commitments – I think Hurrah for Gin has put it perfectly:
So, this feels like the perfect time to talk about the benefits of ‘bread therapy’. ‘What the hell is bread therapy?’ I hear you ask. This is actually a concept that was introduced to me by the amazing people that attend my classes, and I realised that it is something that I had been sub-consciously reaping the benefit of long before becoming a One Mile Bakery baker.
To say that Suze and I had a tough few years prior to us setting up One Mile Bakery Hale in 2018 is probably an understatement; amongst other things, we each lost a parent and then a baby (and Suze almost lost her life) in the space of 18 months, so we had some pretty hard and sad times.
Being ‘mindful’ is described as ‘focusing one’s awareness on the present moment’. Bread therapy or mindful baking is the idea that baking can almost be a form of meditation or therapy to help people relax and be in the moment. Without realising it, I was starting to bake and cook more and more, as a form of escapism and comfort. When you’re baking, you can switch off from the outside world – there’s a recipe to follow if you need it, it can be easy and formulaic, you don’t need to think too much – or you can get creative and do your own thing; there are no rules. Repetitive kneading can be really relaxing, and you can also take out your frustrations on the dough!
When I left primary school teaching, I thought perhaps my days of ‘helping’ others were over; but one of the most surprising and positive things I discovered when I started to run classes through One Mile Bakery is that many people attend baking classes as a form of healing, perhaps having suffered a bereavement themselves or because they have been struggling with anxiety and depression and the class and learning to bake formed a part of their therapy, and that is so amazing, rewarding and touching to hear.
At this time of year, remember to take some time out for yourself and to practice simple self-care to protect your own well-being, whether that’s going for a walk in the fresh air, squeezing in a work out at the gym, snuggling down to watch a Christmassy film or baking some amazing Christmassy treats. If you want to go even further to reduce the stress of your Christmas bakes, take a day out and come and do all your Christmas baking with us at one of our classes (and enjoy some tunes and fizz) or just let me do all the hard work for you and order one of our stollens and mini panettones to be delivered to your door! DM me on Instagram @onemilebakeryhale for more info.
Sending Christmassy best wishes from our home to yours.