We all talk about stress, but we’re often not clear on what it is. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If it wasn’t for stress we’d never get anything done. And sometimes stress comes from good things, like the birth of a baby or planning a party. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, stress becomes a problem when we don’t know how to handle a situation in our lives. We start to worry about it and before we know it we’re stressed out.
Stress can contribute to all kinds of health problems including insomnia, obesity, some types of cancer, higher blood pressure and serious mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. So it’s important to determine what gives you stress in your life and to come up with a problem-solving strategy. Maybe your strategy involves getting advice about managing your money, finding a new job or taking time out to breathe deeply and sit in silence. Whatever strategy you choose, it’s wise to incorporate some form of physical activity. Getting active can raise feel-good endorphins, take your mind off problems, improve sleep and boost confidence.
Physical activity can also acts as a form of meditation. When you focus on what your body is doing in the present moment, worries get pushed aside. That is why martial arts like karate are so effective at combating stress. A major component of karate is focus and concentration. While focusing on your blocks, kicks and punches you can’t focus on your stress. If you do, you’ll see how it negatively effects your movements. For example, you won’t have much balance or your opponent will catch you unaware. By practicing karate regularly, the mind becomes trained to focus on the present moment, instead of on the past or future. As you practice this focus in the dojo, you naturally start practicing it in your life. You’ll feel more relaxed and think more clearly. Your problem solving strategies will improve and you will respond to stress in a more alert, clear way.
Don’t think karate is your thing? You’d be surprised at the diverse programs available for all fitness levels. To learn more about how karate can help you deal with stress visit www.driftwoodkarate.com.