A brief intro, my name is Clare and I work as an Account Executive in Eirebus and all its company divisions including Swords Express. I enjoy my job but find that balancing work, part-time study and family life is a juggling act that can sometimes be quite stressful. My creative outlet to manage this is baking. Let me start by saying I actually don’t eat cake, I just really enjoy baking. I’ve nearly given up telling people this because the conversation immediately turns to “why bother if you don’t eat cake?”. People always skip over the enjoyment part of it whereas, to me, that is the most important part of the sentence.
Today’s world is a very task focused and goal orientated one, time a rare commodity. It’s nearly considered rude to say you took time out for yourself to do something simply because you enjoy it. It’s like how people don’t exercise anymore, they train. Because if you’re not training to hit a new PB then what’s the point in exercise? Enjoyment is hardly a valid reason! Some believe that pressures in their life are a result of social media but the pressure was always there, social media just made it global. Today it’s not just the neighbours you must be seen to live your best life in front of, it’s the whole world. I feel like there is this constant pressure to achieve the next goal, to be doing something with your time that can be monetised and this is a huge contributing factor with mental health issues.
In my experience, having a hobby I love has benefited me and my mental health and I am a massive advocate for everyone finding a way to express themselves and making a conscious effort to give time to this. My hobby is baking and I love to devote my spare time to creating new recipes and mastering existing ones.
Mindfulness, in my opinion, is giving yourself a break from your own thoughts and everything that is happening in your life which is essential for mental wellbeing. If I have a lot on my mind or there is something troubling me, I will take out a recipe book and pick something I have never baked before. Preferably something that takes time and will require my full attention. When I’m baking, I’m fully focused on what I’m doing in that moment, my full concentration is on the task in hand. For me taking this time out to focus on something I enjoy doing is nearly like hitting a reset button in my mind. Just as your body needs rest from physical work it’s important to give your mind a rest. So, while icing a dozen cupcakes may look like a lot of work it’s actually quite therapeutic to get lost in what you’re doing and give yourself that hour to switch off.
Baking gives me an outlet to express myself creatively. As a child I always loved arts and crafts but now as someone in my thirties sticking glitter and stickers to a piece of A4 paper just doesn’t cut it anymore. With baking, the sky is the limit for creation. I’m an avid watcher of YouTube baking and cake decorating tutorials, in fact, no matter the hobby you will find tutorials on YouTube. There is always a family member or a friend in need of a cake for an occasion which is great because there’s always something new for me to try. Be it a Unicorn birthday cake or a wedding cake made to look like pieces of a stacked tree trunk, I always welcome the challenge of something new. It’s very rewarding to see something you’ve made add that extra sparkle to an occasion!
People often ask me would I not go into baking professionally but I’ve usually said no before they even finish the sentence. Baking is my escape, it’s my creative outlet for myself and it’s something I do for the love of it. Bringing money into it would only add pressure which defeats the purpose of having this hobby. You can’t put a price on mental wellbeing.
Giving yourself the time to do something purely for the joy of it is one of the biggest luxuries in life. So, the next time you’re stressed and you need to treat yourself, put the plastic card back in your pocket and give yourself two hours to creatively express yourself, purely for the sake of enjoying it. I promise you’ll feel the better of it!