Britain has recently fallen back in love with its age-old pastime, baking, thanks to culinary TV hits such as Extreme Cake Makers and the Great British Bake Off. With its popularity on the rise, baking appears to have transcended its original purpose and become a useful therapy tool.
New YouGov research on behalf of the charity Help for Heroes – ahead of its Bake for Heroes campaign during Armed Forces Week from 22nd to 29th June to raise vital funds for wounded veterans – explores the connection between baking and mental health. The findings show that one in five in the South West (20%) say that they find the process of baking therapeutic, but the benefits are felt particularly strongly amongst Millennials (18-34) (26%) in the UK.
Baking gives young people a sense of accomplishment and well-being
Over a fifth (23%) of this age group say that baking is a great way to deal with stress and anxiety, compared to one in seven (14%) of those aged 35+. In addition, 15% of Millennials state that baking is a way to escape from the real world, whereas only 6% of 55+ year-olds see baking as escapist. Forty-one-percent of Millennials are also likely to feel a sense of accomplishment when they bake compared to 33% of the 35+ age bracket. With student well-being currently under the spotlight, almost twice as many full-time students feel baking is beneficial to their mental wellbeing (26%) than those working full time (14%).
The rise of culinary therapy
In its work supporting wounded, injured and sick veterans, Help for Heroes has also found baking and culinary therapy can be a useful tool to aid the recovery of those who have sustained life-changing injuries or illnesses. Multi-award winning Cake Artist and star of Channel 4’s Extreme Cake Makers series, Rosie Dummer (AKA Rosie Cake Diva), was previously a Helicopter Pilot with the British Army and is a supporter of Help for Heroes. She is therefore well placed to explain why baking provides so many positive benefits:
“Baking is a form of mindfulness which requires the baker to be in the moment and this is, in itself, a form of stress relief. Not only that, it provides a great outlet for people to express themselves creatively plus giving or receiving homemade bakes offers such a real feel-good factor.
“In fact it’s not unusual for friends and family to send a member of the Armed Forces a cake or biscuits while they’re deployed abroad – and this can be such a great pick-me-up when you’re away from home.”
The UK public agree with Rosie as almost half (48%) of those in the South West think that baking a homemade treat can be a good way to cheer people up, and 50% of those who have ever baked in the South West say they have done exactly this in the past to try to make someone feel better. In the South West, 27% said that baking for others makes them feel good.
The favourite bake of the nation and the UK’s Armed Forces is revealed
The research also reveals that Lemon Drizzle is the South West’s favourite sweet bake, with 15% selecting this as their favourite beating Coffee & Walnut Cake (13%), Carrot Cake (12%) and Chocolate Brownies (10%) to the crown. Yet while those in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are in support of this winning cake (11% and 14% respectively), the Royal Marines far prefer an indulgent Chocolate Cake (14%) and the British Army back the region’s third-placed Carrot Cake (13%).
Help for Heroes is encouraging the bakers of the South West to join forces for the nation’s biggest bake sale and be part of ‘The Force for Good’ by raising money to empower wounded, injured and sick veterans and their families to reach their potential.
David Martin, Head of Supporter Fundraising at Help for Heroes, adds:
“We are calling for people across the country to sign up for Bake for Heroes Week by visiting www.bakeforheroes.org.uk – and encouraging friends, family, work colleagues and classmates to make, sell, buy and eat cake. Our research shows that they’ll feel great getting involved, especially when they know that every penny raised will provide vital support to our nation’s wounded heroes.”