By Ryan Rivera – Originally published Jun 22, 2012
How Martial Arts Affects Anxiety
All exercise has benefits for anxiety, but martial arts can be particularly valuable, especially if you take the activity seriously and do it every day. Some of these benefits include:
Perhaps the greatest effect that martial arts has on anxiety is that it is a tool to give you control over yourself and your surroundings. Those that learn martial arts learn discipline, and that discipline affects more than simply the movements within MA itself. That control allows you to handle your emotions in your day to day life as well, keeping you calm and focused rather than letting your mind and thoughts scatter.
It’s easy to forget how much confidence also affects your ability to control your anxiety. When you’re confident in yourself, then you know that you’ll be able to more easily handle any events that life may throw at you. It’s not always about controlling all of your anxious thoughts. Rather, it’s about experiencing less of a feeling of “flight” when faced with a stressful situation. Martial arts provides this confidence, so that rarely will you feel there are things you cannot handle.
When you do experience a stressful day, MA is a great way to relieve much of that stress. In a controlled and safe environment, you have an opportunity to release much of that stressful energy. Any aggression you have inside you is used as a tool, rather than a hindrance. You harness it, and allow the energy to fuel your MA sequences and bouts, brining that energy outside of your body so that it isn’t being held back.
Physical Energy Reduction
Not all anxiety is caused by your thoughts. In fact, in most Americans, one of the leading causes of anxiety is simply excess physical energy. As a result of the mind/body connection, that energy is then turned into anxiety, because your body has no other form of release. Martial arts uses all of your muscles and tires each of them out. Any anxiety caused by excess muscular energy goes away, and you’re left with a calmer body and a calmer mind.
Healthy Social Experience
Finally, one of the most often forgotten benefits of MA as an anxiety reduction tool is that you’re always with at least one other person, performing actions that are healthy and productive. With today’s busy and complex lifestyle, this time that you spend surrounded by other people of similar interests is incredibly healthy – a type of social environment that few people normally have an opportunity to fit into their schedules. It’s a 100% healthy coping strategy that takes your mind off the troubles of the day, and the benefits of that should not be overlooked.
Using MA to Relieve Anxiety
In addition to the benefits outlined above, all forms of exercise also burn stress hormones and increase endorphins – the body’s natural pain killers. Combine those benefits with all of the advantages outlined above, and you’ll see why MA is such a powerful way to reduce your daily anxiety and stress. As long as you put effort into your martial arts practices, you’ll find that your anxiety melts away.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera has long researched the effects that exercise has on the body, and now writes tools and tips for dealing with anxiety.