Burnout Solution 7: The Martial Arts
Of course, I make a point in the book of saying your recovery should be highly personal. So I don’t know if this will work for you… but I want to tell you about my experiences with all kinds of Martial Arts. For me personally, they worked. And still work brilliantly today to keep stress away and give me creative focus!
Balancing emotions Any kind of movement is good for you if you are stressed, feeling stuck or burned out. Our first blog post is even on just going for a walk, which I highly recommend doing often. Other forms of physical movement will work too of course. But today, I'm giving a special shout out to Martial Arts. They not only relieve stress, depression and burnout symptoms, but also add creative focus and reduce creative resistances.
Getting 'out of your mind' and 'into your body' is essential if you want to recover from mental challenges. It is also highly recommended for creative work. Just feeling your way through a creative challenge - and not thinking too much - will get you into a state of natural flow. There are tons of different ways to connect with your body. From breathing exercises to swimming, taking a shower or the aforementioned walk, all of them are beneficial to you.
Different than yoga
Yoga is of course the most common referred to sport when it comes to stress and anxiety release. It is a form of martial arts, although it is very different from boxing, karate or Kung Fu and other great fighting sports. In many ways, yoga is the opposite of that, since it has a very peaceful feel behind it all. Here, the rhythmic movements help you regain focus in the here and now. It purges you of anxiety. The emphasis on breathing will help you feel more relaxed. Anyone struggling with mental issues should try yoga for sure. There is no doubt.
But even though I love it, to me yoga isn't the perfect thing to do when stressed out. It can also add to your stress levels because it tends to expose those things in your life that aren't going very well. Yoga opens the floodgates. Which is good... but not at every point or every time. Sometimes you just want the emotions to balance out, instead of being confronted with the worst ones. The more aggressive martial arts can help you get there easier.
Benefits of martial arts
So, the martial arts hold a special place in recovery practices. They tend to balance out all kinds of different emotions. Were it fear, anxiety, anger, sadness or frustration, martial arts make you feel both literally and figuratively more balanced in your emotional state. I’m a life-long boxer myself, with some experience in karate as well. These types of sports tend to alleviate a lot of excess anger and frustration. It can make you feel at peace and happy about yourself, losing the negative things you don’t need. They are also good confidence builders.
And there is another plus side to them: when you are feeling lethargic, they can spark your fighting spirit again. It's not that martial arts will heal you instantly. But it will reveal to you that you are a bigger survivor, with more will to pull through and fight, than you were thinking.
There are however, two martial art forms that top them all when it comes to stress, depression and anxiety relief. And they are both not aggressive at all: Qi Gong and Tai Chi! These forms of movement - art forms really - are especially designed, honed and crafted for over 1500 years, to pump up your energy. It will make your body flow more and stress less. Exactly the thing you are missing during a period of mental challenges or burnout! Try this channel on YouTube for an easy start.
They also don’t take too much time to get into. And they have special exercises for certain organs or parts of your body like the hips, lower back and shoulders if you need them. And even if you are feeling good already, you can use them to get creative focus, like I do almost every morning. So, feeling bad? Get ready to feel like a Kung Fu badass. Give it a go!
And take it easy. Love.
(Check out the book Restart here)
Rogier van Kralingen