There are many reasons students come to martial arts classes, 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 hugely helpful to help adults reduce anxiety (and kids, too- but that’s a topic for another time). Not only is it a highly physical sport (get all the adrenaline out), but it’s also an effective 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 adrenaline that your brain can pump through you when you’re feeling anxious needs to go somewhere, or else you’re stuck in fight-or-flight mode for too long. Kicking and punching and channeling that energy effectively is a superb way to combat the adrenaline pump and can even be necessary for your body, as it’s getting the adrenaline and anxiety out in a focused 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 … 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 not hard to correlate racing thoughts that occupy your brain space with 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 (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 you, even if you’re anxious, 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, getting into a community and engaging in positive social interactions, learning about mindset, and looking forward to new goals and challenges – these are vital components 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 so much more than just punches and kicks. Martial arts is an amazing tool that people have been using for centuries to dramatically improve their lives and mindsets.
How? Using ancient techniques that are mixed with a complete education on modern mindset in your martial arts classes, you build confidence, and physical and mental strength. You develop discipline and perseverance by hitting your fitness goals and moving through the ranks. And you learn so much about how strong your mind is from such a physically involved sport. We’re not going to sugarcoat it – martial arts is hard.
It is a difficult sport. There’s a lot of coordination, a lot of muscle movement, a lot of focus, and discipline required to really be a successful martial artist. So martial arts are difficult, but guess what- so is life with anxiety, and 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 living 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
In our classes at Barner’s Blue Dragons we are huge believers in the power of mindset because we’ve seen it work time and time again. 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. If you’ve ever been to the gym when you’re anxious, you’ll know that 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 what it sees as emergencies 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 the mat 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.
Last thing. Sometimes when you’re anxious you can’t see anything other than your own shortcomings and failures. But know this- our instructors and the community here are going to support you. We are going to show you just how freaking amazing you really are, despite (or maybe because of?) your mental health struggles. The best part is that as you keep coming to classes, 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 icing on the cake.
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 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 Barner’s Blue Dragons in Tacoma a try with our risk-free trial (yes, risk-free!) and see for yourself how it can change your life. You’ll love it!