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Baking & cooking

If you have the equipment, baking or cooking can be a relaxing activity – at least for some people! It’s not everyone’s favourite thing to do, but, for those who enjoy it, spending some time making a nutritious meal or sweet treat from scratch is a satisfying and rewarding experience. Lots of people report that it allows their mind to switch off as they become absorbed in the task of preparing food, almost like a mindfulness exercise.

If you’re looking for an easier version of this, you could try out some microwave recipes, which will save you time and energy if you’re having an off day. For example, this microwave mug cake is perfect if you want to rustle up some quick comfort food.  And there are various websites which can help you cook great meals on a budget

We’re pretty sure you already know this part, but make sure to be careful when handling hot objects and set a timer so you don’t forget about what’s in the oven. If cooking/baking feels like more of a chore to you, don’t put any pressure on yourself to make complex meals from scratch – you could always save this for special occasions when you can get a friend or family member to help.

Recipe writer, food judge and demonstration Chef, Suzy Pelta, discusses how baking has helped her manage her wellbeing in the below video and has provided a quick, 5 minute cake recipe for you to try below:

Suzy has kindly shared a Double chocolate brownie mug cake recipe which can be made in a microwave in a matter of minutes:


Images and text excerpted from Miracle Mug Cakes by Suzy Pelta. Photography Copyright © Ryland Peters & Small Ltd. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

What young people have told us:

'It helps to release tension and anger, and also produces a satisfaction of 'I've made something!''

'It was helpful to get up and do something with my hands and be able to move around. It also took a lot of my focus and so I wasn't worrying consistently as I was distracted by the baking. It helps you maintain a sense of purpose and productivity while doing something nice for yourself.'

'Please do this, it can produce tasty results and helps you to feel like you made something'

'Yes, it helps to keep motivation rather than boredom and getting the gratification of getting done something new.

There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.

If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.