Many of us think of martial arts as something for kids to do as an after-school activity so they can focus on discipline, respect, and getting good grades. True, martial arts can do those things. But it can be so much more if taken seriously and applied properly.
There’s no doubt that martial arts can benefit the body, but did you know that it can benefit the mind as well? For those who struggle with depression and/or anxiety, it could take a great deal of energy to even get out of bed, let alone participate in a full marathon. Well, we’re not telling you to combat depression and anxiety by attending the next radical obstacle course race – because all you actually need to do is spend one hour (which is really just 4% of your day!) at your nearest martial arts gym.
Ready to punch depression and anxiety in the face? Then read on to discover The Psychology of Martial Arts:
1) It helps you to de-stress
With so many day-to-day worries and things that don’t go our way, it comes as no surprise that we often end up stressing ourselves out on a regular basis. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed, your body releases higher levels of cortisol – which is a hormone that can affect your mood and potentially lead to anxiety, when your body goes through the “fight or flight” process. Also, too much cortisol could lead to depression, especially when you get so overwhelmed with the stress that you feel helpless.
Just when you thought cortisol couldn’t be more harmful, it also plays a part in holding on to belly fat! So why not get rid of all that negative energy and melt some fat by training martial arts? When you constantly subject yourself to the low level of stress that comes with physical activity, you actually help your body to eventually get immune to it, and as a result, help yourself to become less affected by other stressors in the long run.
2) It keeps you active
Did you know that leading a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to higher rates of depression and anxiety? To add to that, inactivity has also been connected to cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
As most of us spend a large portion of time sitting, be it at school or at work, it’s definitely a good idea to hit the gym regularly. And what better way is there to keep fit than martial arts? Apart from being active, you will also learn how to defend yourself and your loved ones in the face of danger.
3) It puts you in a better mood
As we get older, our bodies lose dopamine, which is a chemical in the brain that is required for feelings of pleasure and happiness. With every decade, we lose 6 to 7 percent of our receptors that accompany pleasure and approval. Hence, we can become more prone to depression and anxiety.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you wish to feel better (even during a tough day), then a quick fix would be a martial arts training session. Besides increasing the production of dopamine, martial arts also gives you an endorphin rush like no other – so you will definitely leave the gym feeling happier than when you entered.
4) It gives you a better night’s sleep
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, it can be difficult to fall asleep at night. The worst part is that lacking sleep increases your body’s cortisol production, which leads to stress (as we mentioned in #1) – so it becomes a cycle that you will struggle to get out of.
Have you been struggling to sleep at night? If so, then you might want to consider training martial arts – because it can help you sleep better. Physical activity tires the body enough such that it becomes easier to fall asleep, even when those thoughts race through your mind. By training, you’re improving the quality of your sleep, and this might help you better manage anxiety or depression.
5) It makes you more optimistic
Talk to any martial artist, and you’ll discover that the training has toughened him/her up – both physically and mentally. This is because, like in life, training also comes with obstacles and challenges, so it boils down to how you choose to handle them.
If you’re someone who tends to focus on the negative aspect of things, martial arts could be just what you need to turn this weakness into a strength. Once you get stronger and learn to see the glass as half full rather than half empty, there’s no doubt you will be able to look on the bright side of life – even outside the gym.
Now that you’ve made it to the end of this article, it’s up to you to take that next step to better manage your depression and anxiety. It might not be easy, but all of us at Evolve Daily believe that you’ve got what it takes to unleash the inner warrior! So, why not give martial arts a chance to help you feel better (Evolve MMA)?