Mindful baking workshop aims to combat stress

A new workshop is combining bread making with the idea of ‘mindfulness’.

Taking place at The School of Artisan Food next month, the Mindful Bread workshop is being run by Ian Waterland, who has worked in mental health for 28 years and now runs Leicestershire micro-bakery Knead Good Bread.

The workshop follows a pilot study by The Real Bread Campaign in which participants said baking made them happier and more relaxed, less anxious and had given them a sense of achievement.

Mindfulness is the idea of improving mental wellbeing by paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you.

”Everyone would benefit from mindfulness in today’s modern fast-paced world,” said Waterland. “Many of us do use it, but not consciously or as well as we could. It’s actually an ancient technique. It’s about being present in the moment.”

He added that, when making bread, a baker has to use all their senses and “stay in the moment”.

“How does it look, taste, smell, is the texture right and so on? I believe the process of making bread is therapeutic, it is much healthier than buying bread and can be an effective strategy in combating stress and of course, it’s also fun.”

The workshop will teach techniques such as mindful breathing and talk about the benefits of the technique during the hands-on bread baking session.

“I’ll be using the gaps while the dough is proving or baking to talk about mindfulness, its history and some techniques that we will be putting into practice,” added Waterland.

He said his work with young people with learning disabilities had shown him how beneficial bread-making can be.

“When we are baking, the level of challenging behaviour from these young adults really drops and they gain skills to take out into the wider world, as well as gaining a huge sense of achievement.”

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