Kneading for Balance: How Sourdough Baking Can Improve Your Work-Life Harmony

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If you’re looking for a new hobby that can improve your well-being, help you cultivate mindfulness, and even enhance your relationships, then look no further than sourdough bread baking. In this article, I share my personal experience with this fulfilling hobby, and how it has positively impacted my life and work performance. Additionally, I explore the growing trend of prioritizing employee well-being in the workplace, making this article a must-read for anyone interested in living a healthier, more fulfilling life.

As someone who has always enjoyed cooking and baking, I was excited to discover the world of sourdough bread baking a few years ago in early 2020 (like many during the lockdown) when my daughter asked me if I could bake “those bread with big holes in them” she tasted during our holiday in Spain the year before.

Little did I know that this simple hobby would not only bring me endless joy and satisfaction but also positively impact my well-being, meditation, mindfulness, work performance, and relationships.

Sourdough bread baking is a slow and deliberate process that requires attention, patience, and a lot of practice. I found that this process helped me cultivate mindfulness and stay “present at the moment”. When I’m baking bread, I’m not thinking about anything else, but the task at hand. I’m carefully measuring ingredients, mixing, folding, and shaping the dough, all while being fully focused on the process. This meditative state allows me to gain clarity and enables me to find focus, grit, and resilience.

In addition to mindfulness, sourdough baking has also helped me achieve a better work-life balance. As someone who works in a fast-paced, and fairly high-stress environment, – probably just like you – I often find it challenging to switch off from work and relax. However, baking sourdough bread provides a welcome escape from the demands of my job. It allows me to disconnect from technology and focus on a tangible, hands-on task, which ultimately helps me reset and recharge.

Being a perfectionist in what I do, my baking learning journey took me to the UK last year a few times, when I had a chance to learn from Wayne Caddy who was the first UK baker to compete at the baking Coupe du Monde and Masters de la Boulangerie and has been awarded the prestigious Elite de la Boulangerie Internationale award. But these trips were way more than ‘just learning’ – they offered me finetuning my skills and more importantly to meet amazing people from literally around the world. After all, joining an international event with like-minded folks is not only about what you learn, it’s also about who you learn with; that matters just as much.

Beyond personal benefits, sourdough baking has also helped me connect with friends and family. As the saying goes, “Never bake a single loaf,” and I take that to heart. Sharing freshly baked bread with friends and loved ones has become a cherished tradition in my household (and among my neighbors) and it has helped us build deeper connections and stronger relationships. There’s something special about breaking bread together, and sourdough baking has given me an avenue to do just that.

Finally, I’m not alone in recognizing the value of well-being in the workplace. Organizations and HR leaders are increasingly prioritizing employee well-being and recognizing the impact it has on productivity and engagement. Companies are investing in programs to address well-being, mental health, and psychological safety, and offering flexible work arrangements, all in an effort to create a healthy and supportive work environment. For me, sourdough baking has been a valuable tool in achieving personal well-being, which ultimately translates into better work performance.

While I don’t have the intention to open up a bakery anytime soon, sourdough baking has become more than just a hobby for me. It not only offers nourishing everyday food to our table but also has helped me achieve mindfulness, improve my work-life balance, and build relationships at a deeper level. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that has positively impacted my life, and I encourage anyone looking for a new hobby to give it a try.

Ping me if you need a starter, who knows, you might just end up baking your way to serenity!

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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