If You Can’t Meditate, Bake Bread
The act of making something every day can be a powerful form of anxiety relief
A recent comic by Luke McGarry shows a man in an apocalyptic hellscape, trying to get past a pair of armed and intimidating gatekeepers. “Please — grant me safe passage,” the man says. “I can trade medicine and precious metals.” To which the gatekeepers reply: “Ha! Fool! Don’t you know the currency of the future is homemade sourdough?”
You’re not just imagining it. Everyone is baking bread right now.
The search terms “bread,” and “baking bread,” have spiked to a 14-year high on Google Trends. You probably know a Bread Guy (or Bread Gal), and may even be one yourself.
But why have so many people suddenly become pursuers of the perfect olive loaf or French baguette during this pandemic? One explanation is that making bread can be an existentially healing endeavor. Stephen S. Jones, director of Washington State University’s Bread Lab, tells Wired that, over the years, he has received handwritten letters from three different people who, after visiting his lab, turned to breadmaking to cope with the grief of losing a child. He believes that baking bread is akin to a spiritual experience. “Bread is alive” and “you become one with this thing,” he suggests.
To lessen our anxiety and improve our well-being, we’re often prescribed mindfulness-cultivating practices, like yoga and meditation. But another option is to make something every day. You may choose to bake a loaf of bread or pick up an old hobby, or you could try a completely new creative pursuit altogether. Your daily creative task might be to write a poem or sketch a picture, or to fold origami.
In this thread on Hacker News, the user Internetvin writes about how the emotional overload of his father-in-law passing away within days of his son’s birth led him to make a song every day. The healing effect of a creative outlet inspired him to build Futureland, a project network for people to record their progress of making something every day.