Baking You Better: A Delicious Take on Mental Health Self-Care

Meet Lucy Netherton, I stumbled across her profile on Instagram. Truth be told, I do not recall who 'followed' who first and it does not matter in the least. Scrolling through her pictures- and drooling- I wanted to know more about the chef. Taking notice that she openly cites baking as a therapeutic methodology to combat anxiety, I reached out to her for this interview.

Anxiety is nothing new, it is a beast even the youngest or eldest of us face at some point in our lives, sadly for some of us it attempts to plague our days- even years. Lucy, however, has found something incredibly yummy to do that helps to counteract anxiety and its attacks- you guessed it- BAKING!

 

CS: Mental health and baking, not exactly a common relationship you hear about often. What led you to this yummy discovery? Is it a method of healing?

LN: While you may think it sounds a little strange I actually find the process of baking incredibly therapeutic, especially if I’m feeling the anxiety take hold. Working through a recipe in a calm, safe environment such as my kitchen at home is the perfect way to clear my mind of all those negative thoughts and stop them taking hold. I feel such a sense of achievement too once I’m finished and it really can stop an anxiety attack in its tracks. Afterwards I like to share what I have made with others, this gives me a push to socialise when I would usually shy away, the social interaction is great for boosting my serotonin levels and getting my mood back on track. Overall it’s just a really positive experience.

CS: You stated that you have anxiety. Do you mind sharing with us how long you have had it and what your experience has been like?

LN: I was first diagnosed with anxiety just under 4 years ago but I was living with it undiagnosed for many years before. As I wasn’t aware that what I had was anxiety I didn’t seek help and relied on lots of very negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, negative relationships and not eating. As you can imagine this only made the problem worse and it culminated in me attempting to take my own life. Since then I have tried various therapies, some more successful than others. At times I’d describe living with anxiety as hell on earth, especially before I sought help. I hated myself and found all social situations incredibly difficult, my self-esteem was non-existent and so I let people treat me very badly. Back then it wasn’t socially acceptable to talk about mental health and I really did feel like I was suffering in silence, that’s what my blog is all about really, trying to normalise mental health and help others.

CS: You are inspiring, I am sure that many of my readers can relate. I, myself, have struggled with trichotillomania. A beast on its own but I fight and wont give up. With Baking You Better, you seem to have found a happy place. How can this method help others?

LN: Sorry to hear that Crystal but well done for keeping positive and fighting through! I am now in a very happy place, a place that I never in a million years believed I could get to when I tried to take my own life. Although I do have bad days like everyone and times when the anxiety creeps in, but I get in the kitchen and do something proactive. Don’t get me wrong by no means is baking the only thing that has got me here but it really has helped a lot. Not just baking but cooking and eating for anxiety too. I may bake up lots of yummy, indulgent treats but I share these with friends and make sure I eat 3 healthy meals a day full of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain and lean protein. It’s so important to look into the role of good nutrition when you’re suffering with mental health. I also share these recipes on my blog so others can benefit from my cooking. Alongside this I have hypnotherapy, which really helps me to stay positive and react well to life’s challenges.

 

CS: Wow! So, baking is in addition to other holistic activities. Okay, good to know. Tell us though, when did you start Baking You Better? What are your goals for BYB? How can we help?

LN: I started Baking You Better in April of this year with the aim of sharing my stories and recipes with other, starting a conversation about mental health and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health. My aim is that it becomes ‘the norm’ to talk about mental health, so that no one has to suffer in silence the way I did and feel so overwhelmed that they want to take their own life. I would love people to try my recipes and enjoy baking as a relaxation and mindfulness technique like I have, also to take an interest in healthy eating and nutrition, and the role that it plays in your mental health. You can help by spreading the word; the hardest part is getting the blog out there and getting it seen by the right people. Once they do, people seem to love the concept.

CS: Where are you located? How can people get involved?

LN: I’m located in Kent, England but anyone can get involved by trying out one of the recipes and then sharing the picture on instagram or twitter. Tag @bakingyoubetter and start that conversation. I want to build up a community of mindful bakers!

CS: If you could give advice to one person out there that is at the end of their rope, struggling with a mental health illness, what would you say?

LN: To anyone really struggling my message is this, DON'T GIVE UP! Speaking from someone who was totally convinced that the future was black and unlivable I can tell you I was wrong. Hang in there, don't give up if you're struggling right now, it may not feel like it but things can and will get better. You will have to make difficult changes and adjustments but there are people that want help you and soon you can be living the life that you want and deserve to live. I hated myself back then and I thought I would never be happy but I was wrong. Please don't make the same mistakes that I did, don't cause your family distress because there is a life to be led when you're suffering with anxiety, and it can be so fantastic! Keep fighting, keep smiling and keep positive.

Well Lovies and Lovelies, it is time to bake your way to a better, healthier you. Check out www.bakingyoubetter.com for her blog and delicious recipes. Share the conversation.