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Baking Your Way Into a Balanced Life

Posted by Alexandra Van Rijn on

Life can be stressful, we all know that, but knowing that doesn’t make it any less stressful. It seems like an endless cycle of ups and downs; it's a rollercoaster that we did not want to ride, yet find ourselves strapped in anyway. While we may not be able to control the ups and downs, we can provide ourselves with steady surroundings in order to help us stay balanced during the times it may not be easy. 


I find balance in following directions and adding ingredients to my life. This is what works best for me, and although I hope they help a lot of you too, they are by no means a fix-all for everyone. The important thing is addressing that a balance can exist and is attainable for all and starting the thought process of what you could make work for you and what you can add. My rule for balance starts out very simple. Take an hour for yourself. It doesn’t matter when in the week it is, just take an hour to do something that makes you happy. For me, that’s baking fresh bread. I find bread to be the perfect metaphor for life and keeping a balance. Both are much easier said than done, and both also require practice and determination because they are so delicate and sensitive.  



Recipe for a Balanced Life


An appreciation for the day (No matter what the day has in store for you.)
Eat a nice breakfast and enjoy your favorite breakfast beverage, mine is coffee with a splash of coconut milk. Be in the mindset to keep an open mind - open to others’ opinions, emotions, and open to whatever ‘angels or turkeys’ could get thrown your way that day.

A planner 
Not only to organize your day to day activities, but also to jot down thoughts and feelings to keep in mind for the rest of the week. This is a great way to feel like you have a sense of control over your events and actions. It helps to budget your time so you won’t be overwhelmed with things that ‘must be done’ at any point in your week

Try not to compare yourself to others. Comparison is where you can get thrown off your own track of balance when you try to equate it to or emulate someone else’s

Love and faith for yourself 
This is the little bit of sugar necessary in any baking recipe and a great day. This is very easy to overlook, but if it is forgotten, the bread just won’t taste right and your day might not be as productive or fulfilling as it has the potential to be. Self-love is crucial to maintaining a balance in life because we live in a world where we are always being told we are not enough, and we need ourselves to remind us that we are enough.

Finding balance requires the ability to give yourself reality checks (this is the little bit of salt). It isn’t fun and can sometimes be disheartening, but parts of a balanced life are the ups AND the downs. We all cannot ride on an elevated high 24/7 (even though I’m sure we all know this already), but it is important to stay balanced during the ‘salty times’.

Being present and engaged in your life
This is the binding agent that draws everything together. To live the best day, we must actively live it. We cannot just be passive bystanders in our own lives although somedays, it is all we wish we could do. We must be thinking, listening, observing because there is so much in a day that we could miss, that may never happen again, and that we must appreciate while we can. 

Extras (like a filling that’s fulfilling)

Positive affirmations for yourself
This is not a necessary ingredient but if you’re having a particularly rough day, this is crucial and they can help turn it all around.


  1. Wake up with an appreciation for the day
    It is important to start off your morning with the mindset that this is a new day with new opportunities. The only thing that can get in the way of your balance today is dwelling too much of the “what if’s” of the day ahead of you. 

  2. Check your planner
    Decide what needs to get done for the day for you to be on track and not have a stressful week ahead of you. It is important to think about how your actions today will affect your tomorrow.

  3. Go through your day with self-focus, love and faith for yourself, and an engaged mindset.
    Keep these in mind as you reach the goals and checkpoints you set for yourself in your day’s plan and interact with those around you.

  4. If needed, sprinkle in positive affirmations as you go about your day.
    Remind yourself that you are worth every inch of space you occupy, every molecule of oxygen you breathe. When you feel like you are able to continue with your day, please do. If you need more time, take as much as you need to feel confident and secure that you are okay to complete the rest of your day. 

  5. Be sure to check in with yourself throughout the day, be self-reflective.
    Give yourself a reality check on your daily progress. Think about the things you need to accomplish, and think about the tasks you have already completed. It’s okay to high-five yourself (I do it all the time), and it’s also okay to address the fact that sometimes we need to step up our game and work a little harder than usual to get back on track. 

  6. Take the hour you need to do something that you enjoy.
    Bake some bread (recipe below), watch a show on Netflix, do a little bit of yoga. If not yet done with the day’s tasks, do not be afraid that you aren’t productive enough. Planning a balanced life takes practice, and knowing how much you can realistically accomplish in a day takes trial and error; so do not be afraid or angry with yourself if you do not accomplish every task on your list. Merely take that into account when planning your day tomorrow.

  7. Get some rest and start again at step one in the morning. 



Recipe for a Balanced Bread (Challah)


-2 packages active dry yeast
-1 cup warm water
-1/2 cups canola oil
-1/3 cups sugar
-1 tablespoon salt
-5 eggs
-6 – 6 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Extras for Filling (Optional)

-chocolate chips, peanut butter, etc.



  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the oil, sugar, salt, eggs and 4 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  2. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surfaced; divide in half. Divide each portion into thirds. Shape each piece into a 15-in rope. 
  3. Optional step: flatten the ropes of dough and stuff them with whichever filling you choose (I recommend chocolate chips). Be sure to seal the chocolate chips inside of the rope of dough so no chocolate escapes during the baking process.
  4. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  5. Beat egg and cold water; brush over braids. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before slicing.

Written by UC Berkeley's Campus Rep Hannah Farrell 
Edited by Executive Assistant Addie Van Rijn 


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