Having a physical practice will bring benefits to both your physical and physiological well being.
Depression has been present in my life in form or another sense i was a child. If you’ve ever struggled with this yourself you know how overwhelming and oppressive depression can be. It can feel at times like you have no power over your own self and as if you have no tools to fight back against something that seems bigger, scarier, and stronger than you. When I walked into a Muay Thai gym at 16, I had no idea that I would arming myself with one of the most powerful tools for taking control of my life.
For me training Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu give me a sense of accomplishment and pride that few other things do. Whether you struggle with mental illness or not you know how rewarding a hard training session can be, not only from the endorphins that it releases but also from knowing that you pushed yourself to do something truly challenging. When you are struggling with mental illness these mental and emotional benefits become a very real form of therapy that can give you the space and clarity to work on other aspects of your life. When you make the effort to get out of the house and go train, despite whatever you’re feeling or whatever little voice is telling you “you can’t do it” and then you survive 45 minutes of hard padwork or multiple hard rounds of rolling, suddenly facing the other challenges in your day seem much more manageable. On top of all of this by training you surround yourself with a community of people who help to push you and motivate you. Having a team of coaches and training partners on your side to who genuinely care about your progress, and continuously push you generates so much positive energy for you to carry into the rest of your life.
Starting training when you’re depressed can seem like an impossible task. People worry that they won’t pick it up quick enough, that they’re not in good enough shape to start training, that they’re too old, that their training partners wont be kind or willing to work with their skill level. Whenever I hear someone say one of these things I remind them that every single person you see in class was a complete beginner at one point in their Muay Thai career. As martial artists it’s hard to not feel invested in the progress and success of every new training partner, because we were all in that position of being the new inexperienced person in the gym at one point.
The most rewarding part of becoming a coach and teacher has been knowing that I’m teaching people skills to work on not only their physical health but also their mental health. I feel so grateful to my first coaches who gave me a safe space to grow and learn when i was 16 and I want to channel that positive accepting energy at PCC. If you train and you have friends or family who are struggling with depression, one way you can help them is to encourage them to try Muay Thai or Jiu Jitsu. It may be something that they truly fall in love with that they never would have tried otherwise. If you yourself are struggling with depression and want to train but feel nervous reach out to us by email or come by to say hello in person! We strive to create a positive and welcoming atmosphere for all people!
Peace, love and happy training!