Using Karate To Cope With Stress And Anxiety

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Stress and anxiety are conditions that can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. These conditions are on the increase and the statistics are alarming.

Here are just 3:
1. 1 in 6 young people will experience anxiety at some point in their life.
2. 75% of all mental ill health develops by the age of 18.
3. Left untreated, anxiety or depression can have a significant impact on employment, income and relationship stability in adult life.

Stress Hormones
Cortisol, the stress hormone is now public health enemy no.1. Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism.  There has to be a physical release of fight or flight or cortisol levels build up in the blood wreaking havoc on your mind and body. Physical activity, especially karate training is the perfect way to clear stress hormones.

Fear increases cortisol. Karate practice will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence, resilience, and fortitude. This will reduce cortisol levels. It doesn’t happen overnight but karate will help you build the coping mechanisms to deal with conflict.

Happy Hormones
Karate training provides a good cardiovascular workout. Just a few minutes of high-intensity exercise is enough for a happy hormone called dopamine to significantly increase. Dopamine is the main reason why we feel great exercising. After training, the level of dopamine decreases while the level of serotonin increases. Serotonin has many functions, one being the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. Good quality sleep is essential in the fight against stress and anxiety. Serotonin is known as a feel-good hormone because its release leads to a feeling of inner satisfaction.

Positive Thinking
Overthinking is one of the main causes of stress and anxiety and so we need distractions to take our mind away from our problems. The many basic, combination and pair techniques in karate training will challenge you both mentally and physically and provide the respite that you need to escape from your demons.

Breathing is key to being relaxed and karate will help you to breathe better. In this modern world of technology where we seem to be constantly doing something with a phone or computer, the controlled breathing used in karate practice will help you to relax, drop your heart rate, clear your mind and focus on stillness.

Social interaction
Training in a group is fun! Social interaction is very important to being happy. You’ll meet like-minded people and make new friends. Here at Loughton Karate Club, we’re a friendly bunch and regularly socialise with each other outside of the dojo. It’s perfect for families – mums and dads can learn karate alongside their children or opt for the adults only classes.

Sensei Stephen O’Brien