Baking, hobbies helpful during coronvavirus pandemic, says Winnipeg psychologist

Click to play video: 'The rise of home baking'
The rise of home baking
WATCH: President of the Manitoba Psychological Society, Jo Ann Unger, explains why people are spending so much time in their kitchens these days – Apr 7, 2020

As we hunker down in self-isolation during the novel coronavirus outbreak, many Mantiobans seem to be suddenly discovering — or rediscovering — a deep-rooted interest in baking.

And that’s not hugely surprising to Winnipeg-based clinical psychologist, Dr. Jo Ann Unger.

“Baking is considered a comfort food, it’s very simple and we may have some nostalgia around it and memories of our childhood times,” Unger, who is also president of the Manitoba Psychological Society, tells Global News Morning Winnipeg.

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“Also it’s a very nurturing act. When we feed ourselves, when we feed each other, we’re actually providing some level of care to each other.

“So we’re taking that opportunity to do it.”

Baking-related search terms are up on Google, grocery stores have experienced an increase in flour purchases and sugar and flour manufacturers are working overtime to keep up with a spike in demand.

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Social media feeds have also been inundated with pics of fresh-baked goods coming out of the oven.

And while she’s quick to point out she hasn’t had time to study the phenomenon, Unger says the sharing of photos — and the edible creations themsleves — can be helpful for those feeling lonely in isolation.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Managing finances amid COVID-19

“We might be providing for others and that’s a way that can sometimes feel connecting,” she said.

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“Through social media and sharing those pictures, we’re providing an exchange of a social connection, and those pieces are really important to have right now.

Baking can also be a great way to be both productive and creative, things Unger says are vital to maintaining good mental health.

“Those are some of the elements that we want to make sure that we include, particularly in times of stress,” she says, adding other hobbies can be just as helpful for those without a pastry chef’s touch.

“It can be any type of things that you create, that you make, that you build, can make you feel productive.

“Making sure that we’re doing things where we’re moving our body on a regular basis is good for both physical and mental health.”

— With files from Laura Hensley

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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