The last two years show that we may very well be in the age of hard knocks. Our daily routines are vastly different from what they once were, and some of the changes are taxing. That’s why now seems like a good time to talk about physical and mental resilience.
How do you build up the physical and mental strength to bounce back from whatever life throws at you? The honest answer is that it takes time, effort, technique, and a whole lot of help. Don’t let the requirements put you off: The process of creating resilience is a worthwhile and enjoyable pursuit if you do it right. What does ‘doing it right’ look like, you ask?
Picking up a martial art is good for you in many different ways. In addition to improving your physical health, learning and mastering a martial art makes you resilient in more ways than one. Keep going to learn how martial arts moonlight as the art of bouncing back.
What different martial art forms have in common
There’s an entire world of martial arts to choose from, so rest easy, knowing that you can find one that’s a perfect fit for you. Whichever one you choose, you’ll gain the following additional ‘perks’ on top of learning self-defense:
- Discipline and consistency
- A mindset that can work towards a long-term goal in small, incremental steps
- Knowing when to push past your limits and when to go easy on yourself
- An effective outlet for stress
- An increase in self-confidence
These perks can be more life-changing than the physical fitness you start to enjoy as you learn a martial art. They are helpful extras that serve you well in the gym or the boxing ring we call life. The best part is that these ‘soft skills’ translate across martial arts, allowing you to benefit from these life-changing attributes wherever you are.
Here is how these ‘perks’ translate into resilience in all its forms.
1) Learning discipline to learn resilience
Resilience is a trait that lets you bounce back from a setback or overcome an obstacle that threatens to stop you in your tracks. This is a mental trait that often determines the long-term outcome of an individual’s life.
It’s easy to see the link between resilience and the discipline that comes from sticking with a martial art. Like resilience, discipline is more of a mental attribute than a physical one. Yet martial arts teach this character trait in a physical way.
Unlike a fitness gym membership, learning a martial art almost compels you to keep showing up. It could be the fact that each session teaches something new. It could be the demand you place on yourself to learn and perfect a technique. Whatever the reason, taking up a martial art drives you to show up, whether you feel like it or not.
In time, you evolve into the type of person who can push past a bad case of demotivation or an off day. This learned personality trait fosters resilience, providing the grit you need to overcome a challenge.
2) Martial arts teach long-term thinking
Behind the impressive fight scenes in Kung Fu movies are years and years of training. Your new martial arts instructor will be the first one to tell you about large chunks of time you’ll need to put in. The instructor will banish all magical thinking from your mind by telling you exactly what to expect from your martial arts training.
As you get into your first few lessons, you’ll appreciate the small milestones you achieve. You will build on these milestones with a long-term aim of reaching a competitive skill level. This long-term mindset builds patience and persistence, valuable character traits that come to the rescue when things get hard. You draw on these mental skills when it takes you longer than you’d like to master that technique.
Patience, perseverance, and a long-term mindset act as structural support beams for resilience. Sometimes we find ourselves in long, drawn-out situations that require us to hang in there. It takes a long-term view to tell ourselves that even the most challenging situations change. It takes patience and perseverance to navigate a stubborn setback.
3) A sense of self-confidence lets you know you’re going to be fine
There’s nothing like holding your own against a sparring partner to add to your sense of self-worth. The quiet confidence that comes with mastering a martial art is like an immune booster for the mind.
When setbacks come knocking, the confidence you gain from martial arts becomes a pillar you can lean on. Knowing you can master something as challenging as a martial art translates into knowing that you can handle whatever challenge comes your way. With time, martial arts training instills a sense of self-belief that can get you through a crisis.
4) Martial arts training is an effective outlet for stress
Resilience means taking the hard knocks on the chin and dealing with the pain. It just so happens that a session at the gym, dojo, and studio helps to relieve the stress that comes with living through a difficult situation.
A half-hour with a punching bag is a great coping mechanism, and the same goes for a half-hour meditation session. Most martial arts offer stress management solutions that help take the edge off a bad day.
Dealing with stress gives you the boost you need to get through the setbacks and nasty surprises that jump out of challenging days.
5) Martial arts teach you to ask for help when you need it
Your martial arts instructor will teach you how to assess yourself. This critical skill lets you know when you need to push yourself to the limit and when you need to pace yourself. In life, pacing yourself often involves asking for help when it becomes apparent that you need assistance.
An important aspect of resilience is making a realistic assessment of your situation. This allows you to come up with a solution that works. In some cases, the most effective solution could be to seek help outside of yourself.
Learning martial arts is the gift that keeps on giving
There are no downsides to learning a martial art. The physical fitness you gain from sticking with a martial art improves your health in different ways. For one thing, physical fitness is an immune booster in and of itself. This is over and above keeping lifestyle diseases at bay. Being physically healthy makes it easier for you to bounce back from injury or illness. Physical resilience counts as well.
From a mental perspective, taking up a martial art makes you stronger in ways that this piece goes over in detail. You gain skills that help you deal with what life throws at you. Better still, you gain skills that get you through a challenge, with the will and courage to rebuild or start something new. The values you learn from martial arts let you turn the lemons that life throws at you into building blocks, which is neat.
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