Coping with depression or any form of mental illness is challenging. While consultation with a mental health care professional is critical, it also is important to engage in self-care.

One therapeutic option that most people suffering from depression may not have considered is taking up martial arts. In fact, many health care professionals believe that the practice of Kung Fu, Tai Chi or any other form of marital arts can help to alleviate some of the symptoms related to mental illness.

If you or a loved one suffers from some sort of mental illness, you may want to check into martial arts classes to see if it is a good fit. Many people who have taken up the martial arts will tell you that it has helped them deal with their condition.

What follows are the three most common reasons the martial arts are believed to be helpful in the battle against depression:

  1. It helps to redirect aggression. You can’t control others but you can control yourself. That is what the martial arts teaches. Further, in learning to redirect an opponent’s aggression, you learn to redirect your own, as well.
  2. It builds self-confidence. Depression is exhausting and it can take a toll on a person’s confidence level. Martial arts allows you to face and overcome your fears. By doing so you realize that you are stronger than you think. And the longer you practice the martial arts the more confident you become because you understand that when you work toward a goal, you can achieve it. It also teaches you that you can overcome any challenge, whether it be a person or an illness, such as depression.
  3. It calms the mind. Mediation is a critical aspect of martial arts. Mediation teaches students breathing techniques that allow them to calm down and relax – regardless of what is going on around them. While it can be difficult to master mediation and get to the point where you are able to block everything around you out, it is possible with enough practice.

Martial arts gets people moving and exercising which is important in the battle against depression. However, as the examples above illustrate, it also helps to combat depression and mental illness in other important ways, as well.