How Jiu Jitsu can Combat Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are the cause of mental illness in 18.1% of the population, meaning 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older have experienced a consistent and abnormal change in motivation, energy, and mood. While pharmaceutical companies are striving to fill your cabinets with prescriptions and other aides, most psychologists will agree that there is one form medication that stands above the rest: exercise.
It’s not a secret that exercise is one of the most recommended things you can do for yourself when you are depressed or anxious. Participating in combat sports, like Jiu Jitsu, is another way to use exercise as an anti-depressant. Study after study has proven that endorphins are released through physical activity. In Jiu Jitsu, your entire body is put through the ringer in terms of physical activity, engaging every muscle from head to toe. While weightlifting is another form of exercise proven to combat depression, it does not compete with the whole-body activity of a combat sport like Jiu Jitsu.
One of the symptoms of anxiety is mania, which can cause feelings of aggressive hostility. Redirecting negative actions like these are important to controlling and nourishing your mental well-being. With Jiu Jitsu, your body summons incredible strength to maintain an arm bar and push your opponent into a new position, or to keep your opponent from throwing you over. In other words, or in finer detail, your body does not have the space or time to feed these physical side effects of mania. Under pressure from your opponent, you are forced to act with any means necessary to counter act his moves, creating positive momentum in your actions.
Jiu Jitsu provides more than just physical remedies for anxiety and depression, it also enforces a stronger, more resilient mind set that will also help alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. Like most combat sports, Jiu Jitsu is a one-man sport and places sole pressure on the combatant. Whether you win or lose, your mind is forced to adapt. Adapting and strategizing are key ingredients to maintaining an active brain. In fact, scientists found when looking under an MRI of a depressed patient versus a non-depressed patient, the non-depressed patient had an ample amount of brain activity whereas the depressed patient had significantly less activity.
Learning to adapt and overcome your opponent’s strategy is only one way Jiu Jitsu enforces mental well-being. Like weightlifters, combat sport athletes have obstacles or challenges they must overcome. When they do overcome these challenges, endorphins rush throughout the body and create feelings of positivity, which is vital to developing a healthier self-esteem, another remedy for anxiety and depression. And while it may hurt to lose, your brain is still working in constructive ways.
Together, between the physical and mental benefits of Jiu Jitsu, it’s a no brainer that participating in the sport will give you tremendous power over anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, as some have claimed, eliminating anxiety or depression out of your life entirely is another beast, however, rest assured that participating in a combat sport like Jiu Jitsu will put your best foot forward.
Whether its through Jiu Jitsu or weightlifting, its important to recognize the effects of anxiety and depression and how we can help each other over come them. While Jiu Jitsu is a one on one sport, you will most likely work with training partners and instructors that will also help you overcome your obstacles. Find a gym near you and talk to the instructors and make sure this is the environment that is right for you.
Above all else, be a team player and help your teammates who may be experiencing episodes of anxiety and depression and consider ways to help them overcome their obstacles. Text or Call 661-300-3300 for an intro to Dream Martial Arts and Fitness.