Martial Arts for Mental Health
The benefits of martial arts for mental health purposes are well-known. Of course, physical activity of any kind is good for the body. That said, martial arts like Aikido also take a great deal of focus, self-control, and mental toughness. This is important because mental illness affects about 20% of Americans and can lead to chronic diseases. Given that mental illness is so common, the potential for healthy habits to make a positive impact is encouraging. These are some of the biggest benefits of martial arts for mental health.
1. Stress Relief
Life in the 21st century is often fast-paced and stressful. Distractions pull us in all directions and it’s easy to become anxious or overwhelmed. While stress relief comes in many forms, not all of them are sustainable. Martial arts offer a healthy alternative to drugs, alcohol, and other addictive habits like gambling. In fact, exercise has shown to ease symptoms of depression. This may be due to the distraction from worries or the release of endorphins. For example, taking a break from something stressful gives your brain a chance to reset. This makes exercise in the form of martial arts one of the healthiest methods of stress-relief available.
Martial arts don’t hinge on aggression. Rather, they work to calm and quiet the mind in order to empower the body. This practice of mindfulness, the focused attention on the present moment, offers a wide range of health benefits. Studies suggest it can improve mood and decrease anxiety. Breath control and self-awareness are two major tenets of martial arts and mindfulness practices. Instead of ignoring symptoms of mental illness, mindfulness brings greater attention to oneself. That way, patience and kindness can improve and deepen. Students channel their energy into healthy habits that promote self-control and personal growth. They then become agents for positive change in their own lives and the lives of others.
Taking control of one’s life can be tough, and the world is full of confusion these days. However, with practice, even the most anxious person can achieve their goals. This is where martial arts like Aikido truly shine. They provide a path forward with goals along the way, and goal setting links to positive outcomes in students. Over time, martial artists progress and overcome real challenges. As a result, they benefit from higher self-efficacy and self-confidence. They also engage in complex processes and tend to show improved cognitive function. Martial arts teach students to be confident enough to prevail over the challenges life throws at them.
We promote a safe space for all who enter our dojo. Our students learn to cooperate, not compete, with each other. This goes a long way towards deterring fear and loneliness. Risk factors for personality disorders include neglect, abuse, and unstable family life. Martial arts guard against these by bringing people from all walks of life together around shared goals. This is one of the best benefits of youth martial arts for mental health. They also encourage belonging, which is especially vital for children. Martial arts students of all ages easily make friends who can help them get through major life transitions.
Mental illness affects tens of millions of Americans every day, and it can sometimes get in the way of healthy habits. Luckily, small changes can have a major impact on one’s health and wellbeing. Mood, anxiety, and depressive disorders often improve through proper self-care, diet, and exercise. Martial arts are a safe and fun way to ease many symptoms of mental illnesses. We encourage you to contact us today for a free trial class to see how Aikido can play a part in your ongoing wellness. We’re certain that our space will make you feel safe and supported.
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