Background: 2 months into my PhD and I was already losing my inner equilibrium. I was working in the evenings and juggling a number of responsibilities. Even though I enjoyed both my job and my studies, I felt stretched and my health (or lack thereof) was not sustainable.
I needed a lifestyle redesign. Enter the occupational therapist (OT), whose goal is to help others. Only now it’s me helping me. So I asked myself, what are some productive ways to manage my stress? Running has always helped, but because of various injuries I can no longer run as far or as much.
I was inspired by: http://time.com/3457813/baked-50-pies-help-deal-with-anxiety/
Purpose: I hypothesize that by baking, a supposed enjoyable activity, will help manage my stress and increase well-being in my life.
Method: The 200bakechallenge was born. I decided to bake something every week. A typical PhD is 4.5 years. So that’s 4.5 years of baking, every week. That’s up to 234 weeks of baking. To account for my late start to this project and for any future vacations (although I’ve heard vacation and PhD are oxymorons), I chose 200 as a nice round number. I will bake 200 pies/tarts/loaves/meringues/cakes/batches of cookies during the course of my PhD.
Significance: The purpose of baking once every week was to get my mind off of work and my PhD. Look up the “flow” theory by Cszikszentmihalyi: when you are fully immersed in an enjoyable activity, you will experience a deep focus (even hyperfocus) that translates into a positive, joyful feeling.
The question then remains – is baking actually enjoyable for me? I always liked baking but don’t do much of it. In the past, I have complained of:
- Baking taking too much time
- Baking being too expensive
- Baked goods not being especially healthy
After careful consideration of the above arguments, I justified this baking endeavor with the following: if the 200bakechallenge is going to decrease stress and allow me to achieve “flow”, then I should make time for it. And health is more important than money, right? And as for the last point, my sweet-toothed husband became so excited by my idea that he immediately ran around our home retrieving all his favorite recipe books for me, and eagerly volunteered to be my number 1 consumer/taste-tester.
Conflict of interests: Yes. I anticipate sharing the baked goodies with friends and family 🙂 I hope you enjoy the progress!
Here I go, as I bake my way through my PhD!