Stress Cupcakes

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A desperate gnawing in the pit of my gut, a turbulent fidgeting of my extremities, a sinking weight of the world on my shoulders. This is how I feel stress. Mostly, it’s about a lack of control. Not having control over my life and the things surrounding it. It can be terrifying and numbing.

In the past, I had difficulty coping with the anxiety and stress involved in being a student with the pressure of academia and success in front of me. First I tried to avoid the things that caused me stress, but all that got me was a year behind and a couple of thousand dollars in student debt. I saw so many of my cohorts do the same. Stress was something to be avoided, not faced head on. Things spiral downward and nothing ever gets changed.

This year, I decided to do something different. I transformed my stressed through creativity. I started baking. Cookies, breads, cakes became a way for me to combat my stress, work through it, and then move on.

Take today, for example. Midterms swirling, trying to find a summer job, money, family, papers, friends, et cetera et cetera. Very stressful. Put that all aside, make cupcakes. Weird cupcakes with lots of steps. This particular recipe required steeping, mixing, setting, melting, pouring, tasting, adjusting. It was strange and new and interesting.

I find that the more complex the recipe, the better I can focus and the more I can pour into the effort. And after an hour or so of concentration and diligence, I could step back and look and my creation and feel accomplished. I could feel like I knew what I was doing, back in control. And then my stress was under control and I could get back to studying and working through my stressful day.

But of course, this strategy has its drawbacks. For starters, after I’ve gotten rid of all my stress, I’m left with a bunch of baked goodies. That’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t bode well for health or positive body image, and that can just cause more stress. How I deal with that? Give it away. The cupcakes I baked I brought some home to my family and brought some onto campus to give away in the library, to brighten strangers’ days.

Baking isn’t going to be the key for everyone. For some people it’ll be music, knitting, painting, reading or anything. But I think the important part is that it has to be creative and it has to take concentration. You need to be putting in a constrained amount of time and effort and in the end be left with a finished product. A hobby that lets you work through stress and come out the other side with more than when you started.

Have you found your stress relieving hobby? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Author: Alyssah Pointon

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