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The Hood Magazine

Martial Arts and Emotional Control

06/04/2018 09:05AM ● By Digital Media Director

By: Tiger Rock

Here are just a few of the ways martial arts can benefit mental health:

Improves physical health

Poor physical health can have an awful impact on your mental health. Physical activity causes the brain to produce chemicals that reduce stress and increase happiness. Without activity, these chemicals aren't released, and your mood drops.

The great thing about physical activity as a risk factor for mental health is that you can change it. Many people find that exercising more often has a significant effect on their emotional state. Picking up a physical hobby like martial arts gives you a regular source of physical activity, as well as guidance to ramp up the difficulty level at the appropriate rate. This means you don't have to worry about potential injury from overexertion, which can discourage you from continuing. Instead, you can make healthy habits that will last.

Builds confidence

Most physical activities increase confidence in one way or another, but martial arts are built on a foundation of encouraging self-trust and self-awareness. Trusting one's own judgment and skill is a pillar of all martial arts practices. When you study, you learn how to hone your instincts and abilities, and gain a stronger understanding of what your mind and body can do.

Provides an outlet

Mental health issues can cause and be exacerbated by excess energy. For example, anxiety disorders often trigger a malfunction of the fight or flight response, which releases adrenaline. Since there's no genuine threat, there's nowhere for that energy to go, and as a result, the sufferer can crash, and the leftover adrenaline can manifest as stress, as well as physical symptoms. Martial arts is so explosive, many find it an ideal choice for their physical activity and emotional health. Practice makes for a great way to work through any kind of powerful emotion, be it stress, sadness, anger or fear.

Encourages emotional awareness

The most important and unique thing martial arts offer to one's mental health is emotional awareness and control. Unlike many other sports, martial arts actively call for introspection. Practitioners are asked to consider their emotional state and motivations repeatedly throughout each class. This practice of actively checking in with one's mental state, when done regularly, carries well beyond class time. Eventually, it becomes a habit martial artists bring with them at all times. Emotional awareness is a powerful tool, and martial artists learn to hone that tool and use it to their advantage. This is useful for anyone, but it can make a world of difference for someone dealing with mental illness.