The sport of boxing is probably the toughest, one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. It is a great way to workout, get lean, and to learn self-defense skills, but who’d have known that it does have a number of emotional benefits too? What are they? Read on to learn more about this.
Some people, especially the non-sporty ones, dread at the thought of going to the gym for many reasons. A common reason would be one’s being to conscious about appearance, perhaps you’re paranoid about what other gym goers might say regarding physique (especially for those who are obese or too lanky) and, well, some just aren’t used to being around people.
If you are like this then, chances are, you are harboring some insecurities that are deeply rooted in the past. Perhaps you are more of a worrier rather than someone with a fighter mentality.
Truly learning how to box might just be a great solution to your personal insecurities and emotional woes. Can boxing alter how you view yourself?
Emotional Benefits of Boxing Vs. Regular Exercises
Physical activities in general help boost our mood. Scientifically backed data explains that endorphins, a group of hormones secreted in our brain and nervous system, are released when we exercise.
Popularly referred to as a “happy” hormone, the endorphins work in a way that makes us tolerate pain. When faced with discomfort, it makes us overlook these with its chemically triggered analgesic effect, and it bolsters us to power through a challenge. In a way the activated endorphins make us optimistic and carry on.
These hormones are released through intense exercises, but it doesn’t have to be real sophisticated activities. Even basic exercises at home will do. Brisk walking, jogging, or simply cycling around the neighborhood could be enough to make you feel better emotionally, doesn’t it?
But boxing not only bolsters the release of endorphins through intense exercise, but the nature of the sport itself is a positive distraction for those experiencing mental and emotional distress, for many of those who feel down and seemingly could not get back up from the muck.
Boxing pulls you up from that entire emotional maelstrom by being all over you at once. It’s not a sport you can just do as an aside, and it demands you drop everything else at this very moment, or you’ll get smothered. Therefore…
Boxing Makes You Focus, Promotes Mental Strength
One of the best things about the sweet science is that it really puts you in the “here and now” state versus the fantastic. The regimen can get so rigorous at times that if your mind shows signs of drifting away it just forces you back to pay full attention in the present. Once you’re in the middle of it (training), it’s really not like you’ll have much of a choice. It shuts all the peripherals, and gets you moving forward.
Otherwise, you might miss a subtle signal to hit a pad, or, the trainer throws something back at you to bob or weave under, but hits you in the face instead.
Boxing, even if practiced merely for fitness, demands you to be watchful. You must be observant to many things to a degree. And this is just about what is needed by people who are undergoing emotional problems, or who seem to be tugged towards a world of their own.
Boxing provides that healthy distraction. It makes you forget all the bad things that you feel around you for the time being. It helps you regain equilibrium.
Some of us may have a hard time focusing when surrounded with too much stressors and negativity, and one of the reasons why people can become too anxious is that they tend to keep creating scenarios in their head that don’t necessarily exist, and it is probably borne out of irrational fear, but which might constantly worry them still.
At times anxiety can be so distracting to a point that it can affect how people perform basic functions, and it is possible that it can create a strain in relationships too. Although temporary, boxing can snag you back from your worries and right smack into reality.
Boxing Makes You Aware of Your Being
You don’t have to climb up in the ring to spar to be focused one hundred percent, or to actually be involved in a fight.
As the training inches forward you will become so sensitive to the burning experience that you’ll start to hear your heart beat. You will start to tire and feel your pulse racing, your temples drumming.
A trainer will make it a point to push you hard enough so that you start to listen solely to your body, forget about the world outside, to examine how or determine if you can last another three minutes of hell at all.
How your joints and muscles ache, how it behaves under duress or when you move around… Soon you will realize that the last ten seconds of a regimen may be the longest ten seconds you shall ever experience.
Boxing makes you observe how your body reacts to the physical challenges and the pain.
When you box getting through is practically all you will ever focus on. Contrary to general perception about the combat sport, a lot about boxing involves examining your inner self, knowing your limits, and strengthening your inner core.
Boxing is not even half about the man standing opposite you in the ring. Boxing is about knowing yourself.
So in a way, boxing heals your mind by making it focus on what really matters: You.
Therefore, as an exercise, boxing helps to relieve you of:
- Muscle tension
Even something as simple as hitting the bag uplifts us in a way, so it is a cheaper alternative to an appointment with a shrink, so to speak.
It is not new to hear stories about how people say that boxing works for them as a catharsis, a means to channel your frustrations and anger developed through a number of stressors of daily life.
So if you train in the gym and experience an emotional uplift afterwards, know that this is not something that happens by accident. Boxing not only makes you feel physically stronger and healthier, or develop sculpted abs, but it also literally makes you feel happy. You train and develop a more positive outlook afterwards.
If you used to be bashful about training alongside other people, boxing will make you overcome these insecurities too.
By training hard and consistently you eventually obtain the knowledge that you are now able to handle yourself through the skills you learn. It is empowering, as you’ll realize that you can be just as good as anyone.
That empowering feeling validates your being, and helps you deal with your insecurities.
Boxing Benefit: Anger Management
For want of a more concrete example on the emotional benefits boxing brings, did you know that Prince Harry himself had sought refuge in a boxing gym following Princess Diana’s premature death? Those were doubtless one of the toughest periods of his life, from which boxing has rescued him.
There was a point in his life, reports say, that Prince Harry felt he was in the brink of a mental and emotional breakdown, and it occurred in a number of occasions. He felt that he had to find a way to let the strain out or he would go mad, and during the toughest years that followed, Prince Harry attests that boxing was the main thing that really tamed his aggression.
Boxing made him aware of what he was going through and it helped him manage his wayward emotions.
He even got himself to spar with three-weight world champion boxer Duke McKenzie in a charity event.
Stormed with emotional troubles, had it not for boxing, he might have ended up punching someone. And the consequences might have made things worse had it been feasted on by the media.
The therapeutic effect of getting to punch the pads instead of someone really felt good, easier, and quite the release of grief and anger.
Singer Ellie Goulding admits she enrolled in boxing classes not for the common aesthetic reasons. It wasn’t about looking good, but mainly to help her cope with anxiety. She describes her boxing lessons as being “good for the soul.”
And how many retired boxers have attempted to return to the sport to cure their battles with depression?
The list covers former champions, such as Frank Bruno, Ricky Hatton, and Oscar De La Hoya.
Boxing is not just a combat sport, but also a discipline. It makes you get your act together.
The objective of this article is not to say that boxing provides a permanent solution to anyone suffering from psychological or emotional wounds despite the benefits being positive and obvious.
It would be irresponsible to even suggest that all those who suffer thusly must involve themselves in the sport.
Alas, boxing might not even be for everyone, although the experience of a boxing training for fitness might be real fun, informative, healthy, and even makes us reflect on ourselves in a new level.
The solution that an intense exercise gives through experiential therapy is only temporary. The positive distraction from emotional problems is obviously fleeting. If a person seeks refuge in the sport, he might feel better afterwards, and this may last for a day or two, but the same things that used to bother him may possibly return later on.
If a person undergoes chronic psychological or emotional issues the best way to resolve it is through the proper specialist. Some disorders need to be treated methodically and scientifically, or through regular medication.
However, it is clear that the emotional benefits of the sport of boxing are there.
If you train hard enough and regularly, not only will you be more skillful, but it may also act as a springboard for you to lead an emotionally healthy, optimistic life; something you may possibly use as a guide moving forward.
The pumping of blood in your veins shall make you feel like you’ve never been so alive in your life.
Either you are battling with your turbulent emotions or experiencing the opposite blandness of a desultory life, getting into boxing might just be the best decision to make.