On the latest In The Moment Magazine podcast, we caught up with 2018 Great British Bake Off finalist Kim-Joy Hewlett. In this episode, Kim-Joy opens up about her social anxiety and talks about how baking boosted her confidence.
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Kim-Joy first started to experience anxiety when she moved from primary school to secondary school. Her friend from primary school didn’t want to hang out with her anymore, so she became isolated. “I just started talking less and less, to the point where eventually it became a weird thing for me to talk. So I just kind of tried not to,” she says.
It got a point where she barely spoke at school, but was quite chatty at home. She found it difficult to interact with other people, because afterwards she would dissect it in her mind and become convinced that she’d offended them, or that they didn’t like her.
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Things began to change for her when she went to sixth form at a different school – it was a chance from Kim-Joy to reinvent herself. When she started university, she began to bake a little bit for her friends. “I didn’t like think: I’m going to bake and make myself feel better. There wasn’t like a purposeful thing there,” she explains.
“But I think it just gradually evolved and something like I’m good at this. So I make this and I give it. I make this loaf of bread and I give it to people and they’re happy. So that’s quite rewarding. So more and more, I bake more and more.”
She found baking bread a particularly mindful exercise: “I used to just enjoy doing a bread because it kind of structures your day because you make the dough, leave it to rise and then you can chill out for an hour, but it’s not really chilling out because you’re kind of doing stuff.”
Baking is also mindful because of its sensory nature: “Baking bread touches all the senses, doesn’t it? The smell of it as it’s rising and it’s baking comes out of the oven. It’s also the feel of it when you’re kneading it, shaping it. It’s just nice. It’s like squidgy. It’s kind of like using stress balls.”
Kim-Joy’s baking became an opportunity for her to express her creativity and she’s well-known for her colourful bakes on the Great British Bake Off. She often draws her inspiration from comic book artists (her partner owns comic book shops) and loves to follow illustrators on Instagram. You can follow Kim-Joy on Instagram via @kimjoyskitchen.
Kim-Joy’s new book, Baking with Kim-Joy, is out now in the UK (Quadrille, £18). Look out for our interview with Kim-Joy in In The Moment Magazine issue 31.