Depression is an extremely complex disease. While no one knows exactly what causes it, a variety of situations have been tied to those suffering from it. Here are a few examples:
Past (or current) physical, emotional or mental abuse;
- Some medications (i.e., drugs), such as isotretinoin (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids;
- Personal conflicts with family, friends or co-workers;
- Unnatural sadness or grief from the loss of a loved one;
- A family history of depression (i.e., genetics);
- Good or bad events that are large and have lots of meaning, like starting a new job, getting married, expecting a child, or losing a job, divorce, or retiring;
- Serious illnesses;
- Social isolation or being cast out from family or other social circles; and,
- Substance abuse. (Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.)
I’ve written on kung fu and its use to help those with anxiety and some depression in the past. I’ll try not to repeat myself here, so I encourage readers to check out that blog, also. What I would like to cover in this blog are three things kung fu has done to help those struggling with various internal conflicts:
- Improved Focus and Self Control. There are a lot of angles we could cover in relation to these things. What I want to start with is this: Kung Fu doesn’t seek to control someone to the point they’re struggling to express themselves freely. That kind of self-control isn’t natural, and can lead to further issues in the practitioner. Rather, kung fu seeks to empower the practitioner to find honest ways of holistically expressing one’s self in a safe, efficient and effective way. (This approach is the same as that neurologists and psychiatrists call the Flow State, a state where one entirely engages themselves in an activity, and what Wing Chun calls Nim Lik.) As we develop this condition to ourselves we become aware of several important things that help us deal with anxiety and depression, such as but not necessarily limited to: (1) Appropriate concentration in time and space; (2) healthy regulation of emotion as well as expression of emotion and thoughts; (3) self-control for the fulfillment of self defined goals, quality of life, etc.; and, (4) situational and self awareness. All of this with an increased confidence in ourselves and ability to relate to the world around us.
More Social Confidence. A fight requires two or more people to engage each other. If for no other reason than this, a practitioner of kung fu learns how to maintain a condition to themselves while relating to others. During training, though, one will not only learn to deal with the violent situations, they will learn to listen and communicate with others while building themselves up and help others do the same. The most common mental health problems usually involve social impairment, particularly social withdrawal (i.e., when you’re depressed or anxious you want to be alone). When one gives into these tendencies the situation always feels worse; but, when one overcomes these tendencies to socialize with others they generally feel better. So, kung fu training can be a form of exposure to social situations beyond just the fight that build up the individual and empower them to overcome their anxiety or depression.
- Positive Self-esteem. Anytime we engage in something that improves our mind and body we gain a sense of accomplishment and feel better than we did before (e.g., stronger, healthier, better equipped, etc.). Kung fu offers a unique opportunity to face fears and overcome them. As with socializing, many people seek to avoid the things that cause them fear; thereby, making decisions to “not risk it” in life (i.e., living in a way that might cause them fear) rather than freely and honestly engaging life, wholly. But, as a practitioner of kung fu will tell you, once you face that fear it becomes a reference for every other obstacle in your life. You begin to say: “I remember when this used to bother me and stop me from living my life, and I overcame it. I’ll do the same with this new obstacle.” This type of confidence (not to be confused with arrogance) becomes an identifying characteristic of yourself to others – and your self. It opens the door to patience, careful yet honest interpretation of relationships and communications through living with the world around you, as well as other positive characteristics.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, we always recommend you speak to your doctor about it. But, don’t give up on yourself and give power over to a medication. Where you do have control (and don’t require medication) take action by seeking a kwoon (i.e., school) near you that can help you with kung fu for the reduction of your anxiety and depression.
Empower yourself to life!™
©2018 Yost Wing Chun Academy. All Rights Reserved.