Mental Wellbeing and Martial Arts.
Mental Health is a hot topic at the moment. Statistics reveal 1 in 4 people have suffered a mental health issue. Most people think that it will never happen to them, family and friends often don’t know how to help a person suffering with their mental health and socially it is still considered a taboo subject. Mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing, the two go hand in hand.
I am no expert in the mental health field but I have personally suffered in the past and in writing this article I hope to reduce the stigma attached with mental wellbeing and offer support to anyone who may be experiencing mental illness. A doctor once explained to me that having a mental health problem is a bit like your brain having a heart attack. Unfortunately if you are unlucky enough to have a heart attack then people will rush to your aid as they can see you are in trouble. However, if you suffer from a mental illness nobody can see it obviously; and often you don’t even see it yourself straight away.
Stress, extreme fatigue, a change in personal circumstances and other pressures of daily life combined can cause mental illness. It is usually not one factor but multiple factors combined that cause you to become ill (either physically or mentally). You should try and logically write down what causes you to worry and then think of ways to combat these issues. For example if you find you are bogged down it can be anything that ‘triggers’ you to become unwell. So if it is that your washing basket is constantly overloaded (this may sound trivial but I can guarantee at some point this will probably stress you out) then break it down; do a little each day and by the end of the week the basket won’t be full and you will feel better about it! That is just one example, often we give so much of ourselves to others that we forget to be kind to ourselves.
Be kind to you! Simple things like a bar of chocolate once in a while, a relaxing walk, spending time with a friend, or a social media shutdown can also benefit you. Make a little change to be kinder to yourself. Imagine you are treating yourself how you would treat your best friend… I can guarantee you are probably kinder to them than yourself.
Medication which is often prescribed to treat mental illness can also have side effects and it is difficult to stop taking. However, if you feel you are suffering from a mental health issue the best advice I can give is to visit your doctor first and tell someone you can trust such as a friend or family member. If medication is prescribed please take it. Be in regular discussions with your doctor and listen to their advice. Medication is there to help you and is often only a temporary measure.
Often in talking about the issues you are facing you will be able to overcome them; even though it may feel overwhelming and you might not think you can at the time. My next tip is to not worry what other people think. Paranoia can be a side effect of a mental health issue and you start to over analyse the world around you. Try your best to focus on positivity and think long-term not short-term as this will aid your recovery.
So how could martial arts help people with mental illness? As I have stated I am no expert; this section of the article is based on my personal experience. Mental Illness is one of the most devastating health problems. When the brain shuts down people lose their identity and often it is difficult for them to engage in normal everyday life. Martial Arts encourages social interaction, develops focus, promotes physical activity, and as far as hobbies go it is one of the best as we teach students to lead positive lifestyles. When taking part in a martial arts class you are in a safe environment with others learning valuable self-defence skills and having fun in a structured class designed to assist you in maintaining a healthy physical and mental lifestyle.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental illness please contact your doctor and don’t be afraid to talk. Mental Health First Aiders are being rolled out across workplaces to help combat the rise in people suffering in silence. Don’t suffer. Speak up.
If we can help aid your recovery in any way or deliver a tae kwon do session to promote a healthy body and healthy mind for you please get in touch.
For more support please visit the charity www.mind.org.uk
Written by Sandwell Tae Kwon Do Instructor,
Claire Southall (3rd Degree Black Belt, Mother and Blogger)
Never give up!