stress baking

Over the past few years I have become a stress baker.

At first, bryan enjoys the stress-baking. It means made from scratch scones and muffins in the morning, pot-pie and lasagna for meals, cookies and brownies for dessert. Zu helps me extra in the kitchen. A half hour or so of stirring and kneading and measuring, and I’m a happy momma again. Something about the sole concentration on simple, textural tasks of pouring and mixing is soothing.

But then my stress reaches a level where being in the kitchen a little extra stops helping. I start to burn things, skip ingredients, forget steps. It makes for some really bad meals.  Which leads to budget stress and not-pleasing-my-family stress. 

So that is where we are right now—the balance has tipped, and so I am laying off the flour sugar and eggs and trying to find another way to deal. 

Being a teacher, my stress is seasonal. Mid-october to November, then again mid-march to april. (though you should have seen the chaos in my kitchen when I was a week overdue with June! I couldn’t boil water right by the end of it). Try as I might, eventually my defenses against stress wear thin and I’ve got ulcers and knotted muscles and sleepless nights. (Next semester I'm teaching all online classes though, so I've got high hopes for less stressful seasons!)

Over the years there were different ways I handled stress. Yelling at people was a favorite way when I was younger, but I’ve since learned that makes me sort of hard to be around even if you really love me extra much, so I’ve opted for internalizing the stress. Then I used to eat more when I was stressed, but this year I’ve been changing my eating habits (and 15lbs down because of it)  so I’m trying to find something healthier to replace that habit. For a while cooking was helping, but I have so much on my mind that I find it too hard to concentrate. 

It makes me a mess in all areas—nine out of ten little disasters we have had this month are the direct result of my carelessness. I’m thinking about trying out breaking things on purpose next to relieve stress, since breaking them on accident seems to happen so often lately anyway. Bryan and I have a date this weekend though, so maybe some one-on-one time without kids and just with my honey will help.

I mean, I'm just raising two kids two and under, working full time as a professor, editing my first book--what is there to be stressed about?

What do you do to relax when you are stressed?  


  1. You do have every right to be stressed! Stress relief and me time is SO important. For me, having a night off to unwind with other women is really rejuvenating, too. I like meeting local friends for dinner or coffee after the boys are in bed. Tyson enjoys the extra work time because he's always got a project of some kind going (and maybe Bryan would enjoy the writing time!). Most of my friends here don't have kids, though, and they have more flexible schedules. If I were local, we could go out for late dinners at 8pm after the kids were asleep!

    I think I've told you this, but I do break things when I'm stressed/overwhelmed/angry. I'm actually trying to get out of that habit, though, because I've broken two coffee pots that way and Tyson says he's not buying any more coffee pots so I have to break the habit or learn to live without coffee.

    For me, when things get really bad, I just tell Tyson, "I'm really sorry, but I've got to get out of this house" and then he usually says okay as long as he's not working, of course, and then I go to Kroger for an hour or fill up the car with gas for ten minutes and come back a new person. I can't imagine how much better I'd feel if I actually did something nonproductive with my time away, like shopping or Starbucks just-because. I'd probably feel like a million dollars.

    1. maybe i just need to get out of the house! bryan has been pretty stressed too though so I don't want to put more on him. my mom and sister and dad are coming to visit this weekend though, so maybe i can escape a little easier =) too bad you don't live close, coffee and conversation would be nice today!

  2. i agree with heather! getting out of the house helps me so much when i'm stressed. no matter the weather, i put on the right type of clothing and run out the door like i'm fleeing wild banshees. i go to our nearest city park that has a 2 mile walking trail in the woods and i just walk and listen to the silence. it quiets my soul. because that is what stress is for me-- when i've let too much of the craziness of life affect my soul and my identity. so i go somewhere quiet to shed those things, leave them in the grass and trees and the river. and usually i'm able to come back in an hour or so and i feel much more ready to tackle my life again.

  3. Yes, definitely get out of the house! Just go wander around a store or outside if it's pretty. Or go lie down on your bed with some favorite music and do nothing for 10 minutes.