Reducing stress and anxiety is often a sub-goal of martial arts students who are looking to get fit, have fun, and learn life-saving skills … But this sport can help students with anxiety directly in a few different ways. Let’s get into them. (We’re not medical professionals and recommend you consult with a doctor to get the proper treatment and care you deserve.)
Reducing Anxiety with Martial Arts
Martial arts classes can be really helpful for adults (and kids!) that may struggle with clinical or just life-related anxiety. Not only is it a highly physical sport (which means you’re actually doing something with all the adrenaline that the anxiety produces), it’s also a unique tool we can use to combat symptoms of anxiety.
A common symptom of anxiety is racing thoughts. If you’re battling anxiety, you may feel like you’re just your thoughts, not feeling present or even feeling your body at all. Martial arts can be a great solution for this. First of all, when you’re feeling anxious, your brain can pump out adrenaline and turn on your fight-or-flight system. All that adrenaline usually just stays in your body because you’re not moving, you’re (over)thinking – but martial arts pushes you in a different direction.
Kicking and punching and channeling that energy effectively is really healthy and can even be necessary for your body, as it’s getting the adrenaline and anxiety OUT in an intentional way. Secondly, the full-body workout you get when learning self defence in general is going to melt that stress away and help you get ALL of those feelings out. Stress at work, stress with your kids, your partner, your life …
Everything you’re ruminating on or worrying about flushes out on the mat. You channel it all into movement and it makes you a focused, clear-headed person off the mat- and an excellent martial artist on the mat, with real power and energy behind your moves.
Concentration and Motivation Through Martial Arts
It’s no surprise that racing thoughts can lead to difficulty concentrating, another symptom of anxiety. Sometimes you feel hyper alert and hyperactive, other times you’re pretty sluggish and don’t want to do anything. You’re either frozen in panic or spinning your wheels with stress. If you’re experiencing this – show up to class. That’s all we ask you to do.
Once you get here, we will help you. Our world-class instructors (who have probably experienced something very similar) will show you how to take your stress and tension and “help, my shoulders are stuck to my ears” feelings and channel them into your moves. If you can commit to making it through the door, soon the minutes will fly by as you’re having fun with your friends and getting your sweat on, and then you’ll wonder where that hour went. For this one martial arts class, you don’t have to be anything other than exactly who you are, anxiety or no, doing what you’re doing, exporting your thought process to your instructor and getting it all out through physical movement.
Martial arts cannot cure or get rid of anxiety. Only a medical professional can show you how to do that. But moving your body, joining a community and engaging in positive social interactions, refining your mindset and slowly looking towards new horizons and accomplishments – these are vital components of your whole mental health picture that martial arts can definitely help with.
Creating a Better Mindset Through Martial Arts
This is something you’ll hear us say a lot, but it’s totally true – martial arts is about so much more than just punches and kicks. Martial arts is actually an amazing tool that people have been using for centuries to achieve real success and change their lives. How? Using ancient techniques that are mixed with a complete education on modern mindset in your martial arts classes, you build confidence, physical and mental strength. You develop perseverance while achieving your goals and getting your belts. And you learn so much about how strong your mind is from such a physically demanding sport.
Listen – martial arts is HARD. It is a difficult sport. There’s a lot of complicated coordination between your brain, your body, your muscle memory and your discipline skills required to really be a successful martial artist. It’s not all peaches and roses in our class but neither is life, especially life with anxiety. We’re going to help you get through it. Whether it’s just anxious feelings or full-on generalized anxiety disorder, we know the difficulty of life with mental health issues cannot be understated. But we also know it can be helped through the power of martial arts classes, and the development of your mindset.
How Mindset Can Help You Reduce Anxiety
Mindset is so important to us here at Black Belt Plus because we’ve seen it work time and time again, on and off the mat. One of our favorite quotes is “A black belt is a white belt who never gave up.” The only difference between the two belts, or any two belts, is the commitment to show up and keep at it, even (especially) when times are tough.
When you’re by yourself in a gym, for example, it’s you, the machinery or weights, and your brain telling you what to do. Sometimes, when you’re anxious, your brain is not your most reliable workout buddy. It gets distracted, it can say some pretty mean things to you and hype you up for “emergencies” (which are really non-threats) in the worst way possible. But when you’re in our martial arts classes, it’s not your brain telling you what to do (not yet, anyway)- it’s our instructors. And our instructors have been right where you stand. Many of them have struggled with their own mental health issues, and have turned to martial arts time and time again for support from their own instructors, their peers, and this family here. Martial arts is an individual sport in a group setting, which means that you’re never alone, and that fact alone can be hugely helpful in reducing anxiety.
One more thing about the instructors. Sometimes when you’re struggling with anxiety you can’t see anything other than your own shortcomings and failures. But believe this- our instructors and the community here are going to support you. We are going to show you just how much you actually can achieve, despite (or maybe because of?) your mental health struggles. What’s so cool is that over time, you start to internalize that supportive encouragement, and are able to carry yourself through tough moments with compassion and grace. The whole self defence piece of it, then, becomes just the cherry on top.
Martial Arts and Mental Health
The benefits of martial arts for mental health in general are endless. For anxiety specifically, staying active, channeling racing thoughts into something useful through kicks and punches, and mindset/community support are martial arts benefits that are critical to staying well. With martial arts classes your overall mood and your health can both improve tremendously right alongside your mindset, which gives you the proper tools to reduce anxiety and push through those tough times. Ready to see what martial arts can do for you? Give Black Belt Plus in Burleigh Heads a try with our risk-free trial (yes, risk-free!) and see for yourself how it can change your life. You’ll LOVE IT!