Baking Cookies Can Make You Less Stressed During The Holidays

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s habit: Bake Christmas cookies!

For whenever you’re feeling: Hungry; in need of a last-minute gift for a loved one.

What it is: It’s December and that means all our good intentions to stay healthy have been flung far, far out the window, and we’re more than OK with that. In lieu of kale, we’re eating delicious Christmas cookies, and we’re not talking about store-bought ones (although those are yummy, too). No, we’re talking about homebaked cookies; the kind you eat as soon as you take them out of the oven, burned tongue be damned.

Good news: there are so many easy Christmas cookie recipes that you can make, which is great when you eat a dozen a day. (Not that we’ve ever done that ...) 

So, grab your mixing bowls and all the gingerbread you want, because we’re challenging you to make holiday cookies today.

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How it can help: Besides filling up your stomach with delicious sugar, butter, and royal icing, baking has many benefits that soothe the soul and the mind.

1. It makes you less stressed

Unless you start a fire in your oven, baking Christmas cookies (well, baking anything, really) lessens feelings of stress by forcing you to focus on the task at hand. Basically, you’re being mindful while measuring out your ingredients or kneading dough, which, studies show, can decrease symptoms of anxiety.

And personally, I find that punching dough and watching the stand mixer whip butter and sugar together very soothing and satisfying. 

2. Your homemade cookies are definitely healthier than store-bought

Not that it should be about counting the sugar content, but making your own cookies allows you to decide how much of the sweet and fatty stuff should go into the recipe.

Unlike store-bought cookies, which can contain highly refined flours, sweeteners, heavily processed oils, and additives, a homemade batch can have substitutes such as whole wheat flour, honey instead of sugar, and coconut oil instead of butter.

It’s all up to you though, so if you want to add all the butter and sugar your tummy desires, go forth.

 

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3. You’ll feel happier

Very few things make us happier than devouring just-baked goods, and science backs up the anecdotal evidence that the act of baking or cooking makes us happier.

A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who do small, creative acts regularly, such as baking and cooking, feel more relaxed and happy.

 “A lot of us turn to baking when we’re feeling low,” Melanie Denyer, the founder of the Depressed Cake Shop, told BBC News. “Some of us even started baking because they were ill and needed something simple as a focus. And there is genuinely something very therapeutic about baking.”

How to get started: Check out our list of easy Christmas cookies that even the most unskilled bakers can make. Next, make a list of ingredients. Basic cookie ingredients include granulated sugar, butter, all-purpose flour, eggs, vanilla, and salt, plus any additions such as gingerbread, chocolate chips, fruit, etc.

Make sure you have all the bakeware you need, which will likely include a mixing bowl or two, measuring cups and spoons, a hand or stand mixer, a baking sheet, a mixing spoon, parchment paper, and a spatula. Now, get baking!

Where you can do it: In your kitchen!

How it makes us feel: Festive!

Read more:

Christmas cookie recipes

Christmas dessert recipes that will make you the star of the party

Trying a new recipe can make you more mindful about what you eat

And that’s your habit of the day.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.