It's been a long week. You've been working your ass off, that Tinder date from Tuesday hasn't messaged you back, and you're tired AF after your flatmate decided to invite friends over for "quiet drinks" last night.
The best way to improve your shitty mood? Science says channel your inner Mary Berry and bake. And not just because you'll end up with a load of delicious baked goods on your hands.
In a new study published last week by the University of Otago in New Zealand, researchers suggest that everyday creative activities like cooking and baking lead to increased wellbeing.
Maybe you can have your cake and eat it.
The research, which was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, reviewed the diaries of 658 university students who were asked to keep a record of their daily activities and emotional states over 13 days. After analysing the diaries, researchers found that in the days following creative activities like cooking, participants reported higher levels of enthusiasm and flourishing (a psychological term that refers increased personal growth within oneself).
As well as things like painting, knitting, and creative writing, being busy in the kitchen was found to be "a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning."
And who can feel down when there's a double chocolate fudge cake baking in the oven?
Dr Tamlin Conner, psychologist and lead author of the Otago study, said in a press release that the new study highlights the importance of engaging in everyday creative activities: "Our earlier research found that positive affect appears to increase creativity during the same day, but our latest findings show that there is no cross-day effect. Rather, it is creative activity on the previous day that predicts wellbeing the next."
It's not the first time that scientists have explored the link between cooking and mental health. Cooking and baking is often used as a form of behavioural therapy to help improve mental ill health. Anecdotally, measuring out ingredients and following recipes has also been found to alleviate disorders like ADHD and reduce anxiety.
So, next time you're feeling low, it can't hurt to give baking a batch of cookies a go.