The Reason Why Baking Makes You Feel Good, According to Psychologists

Liderina/iStock via Getty Images
Liderina/iStock via Getty Images

Whether you're nibbling a slice of zucchini bread or an extra-chewy chocolate chip cookie, it’s always fun to be the taste tester for a friend or relative who loves to bake. And, while eating products created with love (and sugar) probably makes you feel good, the baker is reaping some psychological benefits, too.

Studies have shown that creative activities like baking and knitting contribute to an overall sense of well-being. Boston University associate professor of psychological and brain sciences Donna Pincus told HuffPost that there’s “a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”

Baking is also a great way to practice mindfulness, because it requires you to focus on following very straightforward directions in a specific order. In other words, most of the decisions have already been made for you, allowing you to concentrate on the details while nudging your mind away from the stressors and anxieties of your life outside the kitchen. Julie Ohana, a licensed clinical social worker and culinary art therapist, explained to HuffPost that baking is therapeutic because it helps you practice the “balance of the moment and the bigger picture.” While you’re measuring and mixing ingredients, you’re probably visualizing how they’ll all come together to create a fulfilling final product, and deciding how and when you’ll share it with others.

Sharing your desserts—altruistically rather than for attention or competition—is another mood-booster, making you “feel like you’ve done something good for the world, which perhaps increases your meaning in life and connection with other people,” Pincus said. It can also function as a mode of communication. Susan Whitbourne, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts, told HuffPost that “it can be helpful for people who have difficulty expressing their feelings in words to show thanks, appreciation, or sympathy with baked goods.”

If baking just isn’t for you, that’s OK, too—try one of these other stress-reducing tactics instead.

[h/t HuffPost]

The Reason Why Objects in a Car’s Side-View Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

aydinozcanbaz/iStock via Getty Images
aydinozcanbaz/iStock via Getty Images

“Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” It's a warning you see in basically every car, but why can't passenger-side mirrors display objects accurately? Well, it's actually a careful design choice made with safety in mind.

The way we see things is dependent on how light reflects off objects around us. An object's color, texture, shape, and other characteristics influence the direction and intensity of light that bounces off them. If the objects are reflected off an intermediate object, like a mirror, our perception of the original object may be distorted.

The shape of the mirror also makes a difference in our perception. In the U.S., passenger-side mirrors are convex (curved slightly outward), whereas driver-side mirrors are flat. A convex mirror placed on the passenger side reduces the driver's blind spots on that side of the vehicle by presenting a wider field of view, but it also makes other cars appear farther away due to a slight distortion caused by the shape. The flatter mirror on the driver’s side produces a more accurate depiction of what’s behind the car with a more narrow field of view, since light bounces off in the same direction that it hits the mirror and doesn't distort the reflection of the object.

When the two mirrors' reflections are combined in the driver's point of view, drivers have the ability to both see wider areas on the passenger side while keeping their eyes (mainly) on the road. The flat-convex combo has been the U.S. standard for years, though the U.S. Department of Transportation is looking into the safety benefits of two convex mirrors, which European cars usually sport.

For now, always remember to check your mirrors frequently, and look over your shoulder before you change lanes. (Don't forget your turn signal!)

The Reason Why Hotels Don't Provide Toothpaste

dulezidar / Getty Images
dulezidar / Getty Images

In recent years, hotels have stepped up their amenities by offering guests fancy soaps, shampoos, and even quaint sewing kits. But why don’t they have essentials like a mini tube of toothpaste (or a toothbrush, for that matter) in rooms? The answer is more complicated than it should be.

A little while back, Slate writer Daniel Engber did a deep dive into the lack of toothpaste and found out it’s a combination of guests not asking for it and hotels not wanting to spend money on the product. The article stated that toothpaste is “treated like a drug” in terms of regulations, and would therefore be more expensive.

“Toiletries cost less than an oral hygiene product … the cost-per-ounce is lower,” Tim Kersley, former senior vice president at Gilchrist & Soames, a luxury hotel toiletries brand, told Slate back in 2013. “[Non-toothpaste] toiletries have the maximum bang for the buck.”

According to some hoteliers, toothpaste isn’t “aspirational” enough, meaning upscale toothpaste brands don’t exist. “Following these strands of logic, we might deduce that there’s no toothpaste in your expensive hotel bathroom because it’s not expensive enough ... and that there’s no toothpaste in your budget hotel bathroom because it’s too expensive,” Karen Gardiner wrote for Bravo. (Apparently Hyatt hotels do offer tubes of Aquafresh toothpaste in certain rooms.)

Also, toothpaste isn’t a requirement for luxury hotels to get a lofty five-diamond rating from AAA. According to Slate, the rating guidelines state that a five-diamond hotel would be required “to provide two kinds of soap, shampoo, an additional bottled item such as suntan lotion, a hair dryer, a sewing kit, and a shower cap." Toothpaste is merely a "'suggested' amenity, not required."

Forbes reported that Marriott went through a meticulous process and tested 52 brands of shampoo, conditioner, body gel, lotion, and soap before deciding on the right products to offer their guests. Imagine if they had to test dozens of toothpastes, too? The article also noted that, “Some products are too costly to provide in each room; toothpaste and toothbrushes are among them."

“Hotels could give us toothpaste but they don’t,” Slate concluded. “No one knows why, and no one cares. It’s how things have always been, and how they’ll always be. We don’t get toothpaste in our rooms, because we don’t ask for toothpaste in our rooms; we don’t ask for toothpaste in our rooms, because we never knew we could.”

So maybe if more hotel guests demanded toothpaste in their rooms, more hotels would oblige that request. Ask and you shall receive?

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