I was taking to a student the other day who has suffered from poor mental health for various reasons. What they said, took me back a little. I know the student has been having a lot of therapy from counsellors and psychologists over the last few years. The student told me that they had stopped seeing their psychologist as they are finding their training in martial arts is helping
more. I am not a doctor or qualified to tell anyone to give up any sort of therapy at all. It may be that the psychologist was just crap, I don't know! What I do know is that I am so passionate about how good martial arts can be for your mental health. I myself came off anti depressants around 15 years ago and had numerous hours of counselling in my time.
Martial arts is not just about kicking and punching, well it shouldn't be anyway, here are just a few benefits I have randomly thought of that will help with depression or anxiety.
- Becoming mindful and learning to be in the present moment helps you to shut off from your inner dialogue that people so often people listen to.
- Becoming aware of your emotions and changing negative patterns.
- Having continued goals and seeing yourself improve will raise your own self-belief.
- Finding your voice and learning to be assertive or communicate better.
- Mixing with a community of like-minded people and meeting friends who you wouldn't have thought you would normally get on with.
- Increasing your fitness and raising serotonin levels, the happy chemicals in your brain.
- Learning self defence will dramatically increase your own self-confidence.
There are probably loads more than this. I have always said that martial arts is my own therapy and since I started teaching, I have lost count of how many times people have said similar things as the student above.
My biggest challenge with running a martial art school is getting new enquiries that have got in contact with me to actually show up on their initial free taster session we offer. When you are depressed or suffer from anxiety, your mind will come up with all sorts of reasons why tonight isn't a good night to start.
If you have been thinking of starting a martial arts class, please be assured that so many people have been in your shoes and have taken the plunge to pop down to our classes. We aren't thugs, just people working on becoming better people. We have plenty of coaches and we are happy to meet you outside if that makes things easier for you. Since having our full time centre, I also offer time for you to come down and meet me in person while there's no classes on. We can talk and see what class would suit you best.
Sometimes all we need is a kick up the ass (no pun intended) to make changes in our life.
* Disclaimer* At no point would I suggest to stop therapy sessions, these are my own personal options expressed.