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Eating Through Anxiety: The Great British Bake Off
By Michele S

My anxiety has always been difficult to manage. Breathing and relaxation tricks tend not to help me very much. In the past, this wasn’t as big of an issue, since my anxiety tended to only appear right before something I was worried about happened, and would disappear as soon as I started doing whatever it was. But lately, the anxiety has been happening regarding more abstract things, recurring events, or things that can’t be dealt with or resolved immediately. It freakin’ sucks. To make it worse, my main symptom is nausea, which can make eating difficult, which in turn gives me less energy to be able to deal with stuff. Yay for vicious cycles! (That was 100% sarcastic, btw.)

A couple of months ago, the anxiety got really, really bad, and it wasn’t something that could be immediately resolved. So, I managed it the best I could while I waited for a psych appointment (it can take months to get seen, which also freakin’ sucks) and worked on resolving the issues. I tried to make myself as comfortable as possible, which meant going somewhere I felt comfortable and safe (usually my bedroom or a friend’s apartment) and watching TV while I colored (adult coloring books are the best) and tried to eat something mild. Out of all of the TV I watched during that time, The Great British Bake Off was by far my favorite relaxing show.

Yes, I have anxiety that gives me extreme nausea, and I watch a British baking show to help deal with it. I am still completely baffled by why this helped to calm me down (and especially why I could usually eat while watching). I don’t question it. The show is awesome, even if you’re not looking for anxiety relief. So, if you’re looking for a fun, calm, drama-free cooking show, let me tell you why you should check this one out.

This show may say it is a competition (and it technically is), but it is the most low-key competition I have ever witnessed. The judging is not harsh and focuses on constructive criticism. I forget that someone has to leave every show. American competitive cooking shows are insanely stressful. I can’t watch them because all the yelling, panic, and drama stresses me out. The atmosphere is completely different in the Great British Bake Off. The show takes place in a cheery tent in the British countryside. There is no large countdown clock. Sue and Mel, the hosts, announce when to start and stop and how much time is left. While the bakers bake (and sometimes panic and stress), calming instrumentals play in the background. It’s not even stressful to listen to the judges or narrator explaining how intense and difficult a particular task can be. There is no sense of impending doom, just calm British voices explaining the facts of baking.

And then there’s the structure of the show. There are three bakes per show. The first and third bake are the signature bake and show stopper. The bakers are told what kind of baked good they need to make, and sometimes there is a specific quantity or way the baked goods need to be assembled, but the bakers are otherwise left completely to their own devices. Which means they can use their own unique recipes supplemented by ingredients from home, such as honey from a beehive, or herbs from a garden, and they can practice what they’re going to make ahead of time.

And they are all insanely talented and creative. Which I will now prove by showing you some of the most drool-worthy pictures known to man. The most important thing to keep in mind before you look at these pictures is that these guys are AMATEURS. Self-taught. And this is what they make-

That’s a fresh fig and feta filo flan.

That’s a fresh fig and feta filo flan.

And a Fruit Swedish Tea Ring

And a Fruit Swedish Tea Ring

 Those are Chocolate Pistachio Fianciers and Lemon Bergamot Biscuits


Those are Chocolate Pistachio Fianciers and Lemon Bergamot Biscuits

HOW ARE THEY REAL????

Also, I want that filo pie so bad. So bad, guys.

One of the best parts of this show is that everyone is so nice to each other! There’s no cattiness between the contestants. When a contestant leaves the show they get a huge hug from Mel and Sue and everyone tells them how much they’ll be missed. If something goes wrong, you can guarantee someone will help. When Ruby got upset over her bake not turning out right, one of the hosts went to comfort her. When Martha’s pie wouldn’t separate from the tin, one of the other bakers helped her get it off.

I could keep on going about all the amazing things about the Great British Bake off, but this article probably wouldn’t end.

If you want to watch the show, Netflix is currently streaming one season and there are books and a soundtrack available on Amazon and iTunes.

And for a more immersive relaxation experience, I recommend coloring while watching.

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