Advice

How Martial Arts Can Benefit People With Social Anxiety Disorder

Feb 23, 2022

Studies show that social anxiety disorder affects 15 million people living in the United States alone, but some of them combat their social phobia through martial arts training.

Whether it’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, or any other discipline, these pastimes can teach martial arts practitioners how to live with social anxiety.

With that in mind, let’s find out how martial arts can help combat social anxiety.

Martial Arts Reduce Stress And Anxiety

BJJ practitioners at a Singapore gym wear mouthguards

When you study martial arts, especially the rigorous ones, your body produces feel-good hormones called endorphins.

Endorphins are like natural painkillers that help release stress, which is linked to anxiety. So if you exercise, you’ll feel less anxious in general – but especially in social situations that produce feelings of intense fear.

Even world-class athletes like Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson – who competed in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix – admit that they feel social anxiety during the most routine tasks. But Anderson’s martial arts training has undoubtedly helped her handle it.

Lower levels of stress and anxiety are two benefits of practicing martial arts. But they’re not the only ones.

Martial Arts Build Confidence

Muay Thai practice at Juggernaut Fight Club in Singapore

Anyone who studies martial arts for any length of time comes to discover at least one thing – it’s incredible for building confidence. This is important because confidence is a valuable trait for anyone who suffers from social anxiety.

Confidence can help you handle any situation life throws your way, from minor social interactions like introducing yourself to a stranger, to getting up on stage and delivering a speech in front of thousands of people.

When you’re combating social anxiety, it may seem daunting to undertake these tasks. But after a few months of training martial arts, your confidence starts to soar.

But how do you start training when something seemingly simple like joining a gym creates intense fear? The next section covers that.



Dealing With Social Anxiety When Starting A Martial Art

If you decide to learn martial arts to help with your social phobia, there are certain things you can do to help overcome the anxiety of stepping into a gym for the first time.

First, you can take private lessons at the gym until you become comfortable with the coaches and environment. From there, you can slowly transition into group classes.

Second, you can forgo private lessons and jump right into a class. But if the class has too many people for your liking, you can take one that generally gets fewer students – like an early morning or lunchtime martial arts class.

Third, if you have a friend who studies martial arts, you can go with them to lessen your social anxiety, as you’ll know at least one person in the gym.

Martial Arts And Social Anxiety In Children

A group of kids get ready for martial arts class

If it’s your son or daughter who is suffering from social anxiety, he or she can also benefit from martial arts training.

After all, martial arts don’t only help children’s physical fitness; they also improve their mental health and well-being. Like adults, children can build confidence by studying a discipline.

So, if your children are battling social anxiety, consider letting them learn martial arts. Not only will they potentially become a lifelong martial artist – a benefit in itself – but they’ll have a chance to develop social skills that help them for the rest of their lives.

Read more: 5 Questions Every Parent Should Ask Martial Arts Gyms About COVID-19

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