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Are you looking after your mental health?

We often spend a lot of time looking after our physical health with diet & exercise, yet it is so easy to neglect an area so integral to our overall health - our mental health. Any exercise is great for mental health, but martial arts has a few extra bits thrown in.

Martial arts are a great way to maintain physical fitness. There’s also a feeling that martial arts have other, more esoteric benefits. For example, films like The Karate Kid traded on the idea that martial arts have a spiritual aspect. Whilst that is true, the martial arts have great benefits for mental health, not just physical health.

Calm your jets…

It my see slightly counterintuitive at the surface level, but martial arts actually help people to lead calmer, more self-possessed lives. This happens for a number of reasons, one being mindfulness. To really excel at martial arts, it is important to pay very close attention - doing this quietens all the other things that clamour for our mental capacity

Your focus need more focus…

In fact, martial arts can be especially helpful for people who struggle with attention or have trouble focusing, including with ‘attention deficit’ type disorders. Martial arts foster concentration skills in people, which has been borne out in several studies. Attention spans in both children and adults can both improve, so it’s not just the little ones that benefit. Martial arts often help people perform better in tasks that divide their attention.

Lifting the mood…

In addition to improving attention skills, martial arts have a number of benefits that can foster good mental health. It’s well-known that people who suffer from depression can benefit from physical exercise, like martial arts. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins and cannabinoids in the brain that lift mood. Other mood-boosting benefits of martial arts are similar to the benefits that come from mastering any hobby. Martial arts can improve peoples’ confidence. For people who struggle with anger or anxiety, martial arts can be a channel to redirect their energy and burn off stress.


Finally, martial arts help people to feel empowered. Learning martial arts can help people process trauma and redirect feelings of powerlessness (it certainly helped me when my parents died - ^BN^). Mastering a martial art can help someone who was previously victimised feel more in control - and self-control is something that defeinatley helps your mental health. Martial arts also teach people to establish and defend healthy boundaries. Author Becky Oberg notes that the true payoff of martial arts is an unexpectedly ironic one - Learning martial arts helps people learn to avoid fights. Martial arts give people the skills to manage their adrenaline and control their fight or flight responses.

So if you want to benefit your whole health, not just your physical health, make sure martial arts is on your list of things to try.

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