New students join martial arts classes for different reasons, like improved confidence and fitness with a purpose, and know how to reduce anxiety, but find that their anxiety is reduced the more classes they take. Why? Read on to find out! (We’re not medical professionals and recommend you consult with a doctor to get the proper treatment and care you deserve.)
How to Reduce Anxiety With Martial Arts
Martial arts can be hugely helpful to help adults reduce anxiety (and kids, too- but that’s a blog 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 struggle with anxiety, you may feel like you’re living totally in your mind, 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 courses through your body as you think, think, and (over)think – but martial arts pushes you in a different direction. 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. 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 you’re experiencing this – 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. We will show you how to push yourself just beyond what you think you’re capable of, and you’ll feel your focus shift. 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 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 improve their lives and mindsets dramatically. 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 discipline and perseverance by hitting your fitness goals and moving through the ranks. And you learn so much about how to get your mind on your side from such a physically involved sport. Look – 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. 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 (LINK), 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 to Reduce Anxiety
Mindset is so important to us here at Integrity 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 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. 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 really in the thick of it with anxiety you can’t see anything other than your own shortcomings and failures. But know this- our instructors and the community here are just that, here… for 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 over time, you start to internalize that positive mindset, and are able to carry yourself through tough moments with compassion and understanding. The whole self-defense piece of it, then, becomes just the icing on the cake.
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. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions. There are a number of effective ways to reduce anxiety. Exercise is a great way to alleviate anxiety symptoms. Not only does it help to improve your mood and reduce stress, but it also boosts your confidence and provides a sense of accomplishment. With martial arts classes, your mood and health can improve tremendously, right along with 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 Integrity Martial Arts in Carrollton a try with our risk-free trial (yes, risk-free!) and see for yourself how it can change your life. You’ll LOVE IT!