Stress and anxiety can affect you no matter where you are in life, whether it be battling away at a 9–5 in a Perth office or sipping martinis by the pool. Some feel stress like a soft chewing at the back of their mind, others like an obnoxiously loud person talking next to them. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is that miracle cure for all (if not, most) of your stress-driven worries. With regular BJJ classes, you can actually help your mind to cope better with stress and anxiety.
BJJ Enhances Problem-Solving Skills
It’s the chess match of sports. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about making calculated decisions and watching them pay off. This gets your brain into active problem-solving mode, making it perfect for stress relief. You learn to make quick decisions — or else risk getting choked or otherwise restricted. Here, there is no avoiding your problems and watching them grow in the background: you must work for a solution. You have no time to let fear take control.
Sweat Out Your Stress with BJJ as a Great Workout
We may as well state the obvious: working out is a great way to manage stress. And Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an intense workout that gets your adrenaline up quick, helping you to sweat all your troubles out on the mats. Not only does working out give you a healthy distraction from life’s daily struggles, it also helps to release endorphins (a.k.a. the happy hormone). There’s a reason physically fit people are exponentially happier on average than people who don’t workout. With the grapples and chokes of this type of cuddle war, BJJ will easily be your day’s biggest threat to conquer (and not your mental health).
Seek Out Constant Self-Improvement
After a short period of getting slaughtered in almost every class you attend, you start to develop certain behaviours to lower the risk of this happening in the future. Maybe you choose to incorporate more healthy, water-dense foods before class. Maybe you practice improving your cardio or flexibility on the side. Maybe you even start working on your BJJ technique in your own time. Whatever it be: you’re going to start doing some goal-setting without even realising it. And not only will this constant goal-setting help you create healthier habits (helping your body to decrease certain stresses), it will also help to lessen the weight of stress and give you a healthier focus.
Build Your Self-Defence Skills
Particularly for women (or other more-vulnerable groups), knowing you could walk into a room and take on at least half the people there does wonders for anxiety and stress relief — especially when that anxiety is fear-motived. The fear of being physically defenceless is a legit one and knowing how to defend yourself can really help to overcome it. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu helps to build your self-confidence and make you the biggest threat in the room rather than someone else.
Grow Your Friendship Circle
Friendships grow quick in the jitsu-phere, especially here at Kaizen Lab Jiujitsu. Not only are you violently “hugging” someone for most of your session, but also jiu-jitsu just happens to breed a special type of people. The humbling nature of the sport quickly exits out those with an ego to carry and fosters those willing to learn. The more support and social ties gathered in BJJ, the more people you will have to lean on (and also learn from) in times of stress.
Some Interesting Facts and Statistics on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s Effect on Mental Health
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does indeed improve your social crowd and your self-identity, and this is backed by research – Social identity and personal connections on the mat: Social network analysis within Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Oct 2018
- A US study done on male military veterans suffering PTSD revealed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu made a clinically noticeable improvement on participants. This includes lowering symptoms of depression, generalised anxiety and alcohol-use.
- The close contact of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grappling can assist in releasing oxytocin (a.k.a. the “cuddle” or “empathy” hormone). This could be part of the reason why friendships develop so fast in BJJ.
What Else You Can Do In and Out of the Gym to Manage Your Stress and Anxiety Better
Need some extra support on journeying to better stress and anxiety management — particularly with jiu-jitsu?
Check out the tips below:
Try to connect with your fellow BJJ students
That’s right, you need to put in the effort. Make those small steps to attend events outside of class, such as competitions to rally on your team mates or coming along to club events (e.g. at Kaizen Lab, we host an end-of-year BBQ as well as many other casual team outings in Perth). Allow people to get to know you and for you to get to know them. Build that support system.
Visualise success over failure
Keep your short-term and long-term goals in mind. Come into class visualising success, even if it is a work-in-progress. Have you ever had a class and felt like you didn’t do as well as you would’ve liked? Next time, think of how good you will be if you keep persisting, and come willing to learn from the people who previously mauled you.
You don’t suck: you’re new/out-of-practice/having an off-day/not as advanced as your training partner. Pay attention to those negative thoughts, and spring on them with positive, more constructive thoughts when they occur. The ultimate defeater for navigating stress is doubting yourself before you’ve even walked onto the mats.
Build a routine
Routine. Routine. Routine. Get your regular dose of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and support yourself in lowering any general surges of anxiety and stress. Think of it like an ongoing pill. You can’t stop taking it for a week (or few) at a time and then remember to take it again. Build it into your regular routine and take control of your mindset.
Conquer your stress and anxiety with regular BJJ classes at Kaizen Lab Jiujitsu. We offer BJJ classes Monday to Saturday, no lock-ins, and a phenomenal training culture.
New to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in Perth (or in general)? Sign up for our three-class pass for only $39 and get rolling!
Written by Ashley Valli: a Perth freelance writer/editor and blogger for Kaizen Lab Jiu-Jitsu.