There are many reasons students choose martial arts, but one of the lesser-known benefits is that of improved mental health. Martial arts classes can help people with anxiety in a few different ways. Read on to find out more! (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 can be a huge help to help adults reduce anxiety (and kids, too- but that’s a topic for another time). 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, the excess of adrenaline that your brain can pump through you when you’re feeling anxious needs to go somewhere, or else your body’s thinking it’s “fight or flight” time all day. 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 defense in general is going to melt that stress away and help you get ALL of those feelings out. Work stress, kids stress, relationship stress, life stress … All the things you’re way overthinking come 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 not hard to correlate racing thoughts that occupy your brain space with difficulty concentrating, another symptom of anxiety. Often when you’re struggling with anxiety, you’re in a weird dichotomy- sometimes you’re sharply alert (presumably of all things your brain may see as potential “threats”) and almost hyperactive, and other times you’re fatigued and don’t want to do anything. You’re either frozen in panic or spinning your wheels with stress. If this sounds like you – show up to class. That’s all we ask you to do.
The only time we can really help you beyond the words of a blog post is when you’re standing right in front of us, ready for class. Our world-class instructors (most of whom have dealt with or still deal with anxiety themselves) 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. You concentrate on one minute of each class at a time and soon you’re having a lot of fun and the time is flying by. 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 huge pieces of your whole mental health picture that martial arts can definitely help with.
Creating a better mindset through martial arts
We say it all the time, but it’s true – martial arts is about way more than just punches and kicks. Martial arts is actually an amazing tool that people have been using for centuries to improve their lives and mindsets dramatically. How? With the help of martial arts classes and the martial arts philosophy, 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 involved sport. Look – martial arts is HARD. It is a difficult sport. There’s a lot of coordination, muscle memory, focus and discipline required to really be a successful martial artist. Our classes aren’t peaches and roses and neither is life, and furthermore, neither is life with anxiety. So let us 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 Raberge's Leadership Martial Arts 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.” It’s true- that’s the only difference. And it’s the difference between perseverance and giving up, 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’s easily 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 instructors, who have been right there where you’re standing. You’d be surprised by how 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.
Okay, one more thing with the instructors. Sometimes when you’re anxious 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 defense piece of it, then, becomes just the cherry on top.
Martial arts and mental health
So now hopefully you can see that martial arts can really help with anxiety. Staying active, focusing those racing thoughts into something positive 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 can help give you the proper tools to reduce anxiety and get through those tough times. Ready to see what martial arts can do for you? Give Raberge's Leadership Martial Arts in Lakeville a try with our risk-free trial (yes, risk-free!) and see for yourself how it can change your life. You’ll LOVE IT!