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Martial arts and anxiety

August 22, 2016

Nervous young girl hugs a stuffed animal.


Most people experience anxiety at some point or another. Whether it’s planning a big event, preparing for an upcoming interview or simply going through a busy couple of weeks, we all find ourselves on edge once in a while. But what do you do if you or your children constantly experience stress? Talking to a doctor is a good first step, but martial arts can help from there.

Anxious adults

Not all adults with chronic anxiety issues realize they have a problem. Many people attribute their stress to outside circumstances or convince themselves they simply haven’t had sufficient time to decompress. This may in fact be the case – however, if you find your stress levels are high no matter how much relaxation time you set aside, there may be a bigger issue.

Anxiety disorders can have more than just emotional affects. Poor sleep, twitching muscles, and frequent colds or viruses can also indicate you’re overstressed. When these go on for weeks or months at a time, it’s worth asking your doctor for advice.

What does child anxiety look like?

Because children haven’t yet developed the tools to handle difficult emotions – or in some cases, the language to describe them – anxiety can be hard to spot. For kids, anxiety can look like poor impulse control, dropping grades or disruptive behavior. It can also come across as normal shyness. This means that it can be difficult to even recognize a problem, much less work to address it.

If you’re concerned your child might struggle with chronic anxiety, there are ways to help. Encourage your children to express their feelings in healthy, productive ways. One such activity that works well for children and adults is martial arts.

How martial arts helps

The simplest and most straightforward way martial arts practice can help those with anxiety is giving them a physical outlet. Chronic stress often results in a lot of pent-up energy and emotion, which can burst out in the form of panic attacks, breakdowns or even aggression. An activity like martial arts calls for big bursts of explosive energy, making it the perfect way to work out that lingering tension. Physical exercise also encourages endorphin production, which directly improves your mood, and the energy burnt while working out can make it easier to sleep come bedtime.

While martial arts’ explosive aspects make it a particularly good workout for anxious people, its biggest benefits are psychological. No matter what kind of martial art you pursue, discipline and self-trust are going to be a huge focus. All martial arts philosophies are built on learning how to rely on your instincts and make quick, confident decisions. People who are constantly stressed about work, school or other parts of their lives can bring this practice with them outside of the classroom.

Anxiety can have a serious impact on one’s mental and physical health. However, healthy outlets like martial arts can help chronically anxious children and adults work out their worries in a healthy, productive way.