There’s good stress and then there’s bad stress. When stress becomes overwhelming and starts taking over your sleep, diet, and ability to focus then it’s time to make changes to manage your work-life balance. Practicing martial arts like Aikido can helps to reduce improve overall health by training your body while also calming your mind and feeding your soul.

When you feel overwhelmed, you lose confidence and may become angry, irritable, or withdrawn. Other signs and symptoms of excessive stress include:

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Apathy, loss of interest in work
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Stomach problems

Chronic stress causes increased levels of cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, and increase blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease.

Lifestyle adjustments is critical when dealing with stress. Exercising helps reduce stress by releasing endorphins and gives a sense of accomplishment which may be absent at this time. 

Dr. Steven Zodkoy, Monmouth Advanced Medicine

How can Aikido help your mind and body to reduce stress? The concepts and movements of aikido can help to relax the mind from the moment you step onto the mat. Working and blending with your partner towards a harmonious outcome is the goal. There’s little resistance in the techniques and you learn how to feel your partner’s energy and redirect to control the outcome. As the practitioner continues to practice, the stress is often reduced because the focus is now placed towards a positive outcome.

Training your body

Train your body until your mind forgets. As you step onto the mat, your mind is being prepared with warm-up exercises to help de-stress your mind and body. Aikido incorporates various stretching and cardio techniques, two forms of exercise that are proven to make your body work more efficiently. 

Aikido helps restore balance and eliminate toxins by stretching just about every muscle group in your body. The simple act of stretching increases flexibility and gives you a guard against that tense feeling, the by-product of a stressful life. 

Get your heart-rate up and practice aikido to increase your oxygen intake, sending more blood to your brain. Aikido exercise can elevate mood-elevating endorphins that give your body more energy.

As you continue your Aikido practice, you may notice other health benefits as well. Your posture may improve, for example. Your muscles will strengthen and you may experience fewer aches and pains that come along with a sedentary job. You will see positive changes to your stamina, flexibility, and resilience.

Calming your mind

Aikido provides a contrast to the materialistic, winner-takes-all attitude we often find in our society. By working with your partner and focusing on blending concepts versus fighting against your partner helps you develop a sense of calmness.

There is no hurry to perfect the martial movements in aikido. In fact, timing not the quickness of an attack is more important. Aikido teaches you how calm, controlled movements can lead to improved coordination and alertness. The practice of this martial art, with its tradition of direct teacher-to-student instruction, also gives you opportunities for real connection.

The relaxed body movement of aikido allows the practitioner to remain in control and calm. Staying in a relaxed, knees soft stance and balanced with always our feet under us allows one to stay centered and grounded.

At Newport Beach Aikido, students have the opportunity to train 7 days a week in the morning, afternoon or evening classes. The morning sessions may be ideal for those who enjoy the morning preparation before a long day ahead. Getting in a regular routine is important to maintain health and wellness. Some students opt for lunchtime to break up the monotony of work. Sitting in an office for too long can be harmful to one’s posture and circulation. By incorporating relaxing aikido exercises during midday, it helps to give the body the break it needs. Alas, evening classes can also be a great opportunity to release all the day’s stress which help to promote better sleep, digestion, and calming energy. Visit Newport Beach Aikido’s schedule for a listing of times and classes offered to find a convenient schedule that suits your lifestyle.