Aside from the somewhat obvious, there can be some more hidden effects for many of us as the situation drags on. Not the least of these are the way that the pandemic effects us mentally and emotionally. Many people are now having to deal with the consequences of a long period of reduced activities and socialization, boredom, and fear. All of this can leave us struggling with increased levels of stress, anxiety, depression and even PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are also prone to something called COVID fatigue or ZOOM fatigue. This is the ‘burnout’ we can experience from the long term consequences related to the pandemic.
Now, more than ever, is a good time to commit to martial arts training. Practicing martial arts has all of the benefits of other fitness activities but tends to reduce our stress, anxiety, and depression more. There are several reasons for this. First, intense physical exercise stimulates body chemistry to make us healthier and happier. Punching, kicking, and throwing things also tends to purge stress by venting our frustrations and addressing the ’fight-or-flight’ instincts triggered under stress. But just as importantly, martial arts training typically includes a regular practice of focus, calmness and stability. Regular training in this mindful physical activity is designed to help us extend these crucial traits into every aspect of our lives.
All of these aspects of martial arts practice can have a synergistic effect and make a huge difference in how we process the world and react to the things that happen from day to day. Even as the crazy ‘rollercoaster’ of 2020 plays out, we can stay calm, focused and happy. We can avoid emotional crashes and the feeling of helplessness.
All of the classes at ZenQuest include mindful activity that will reduce stress and help students ‘stay up’ in their mental and emotional state. Even with the restrictions on training that are required at this time, classes are continuing to provide this essential training. In fact, some aspects of the current class modifications require a heightened sense of mindfulness and provide new perspective on a student’s chosen art.
So, as Sensei Toshio Higa used to say, “please continue” your training through this challenging time. If you’ve thought about training in the past but haven't actually started, do yourself a favor and consider doing so now. Learn to ‘stay up’ in your life!