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How To Reduce Work Anxiety Through Combat Sport

Written by: Mercedas Taaffe-Cooper, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Work anxiety is a common problem for many people. Whether you're an employee working for someone else or a business owner, work anxiety can take a toll on your health and well-being. It can be caused by many factors, such as job insecurity, long hours, or difficult bosses/clients. Many methods can reduce this anxiety, such as therapy, medication, and relaxation techniques. However, one method that's often overlooked is combat sport. In this blog post, I'm going to explain how combat sport reduces work anxiety, and the best way you can get started – even if you're lacking in energy and time.

What Does Work Anxiety Look Like?

To understand how combat sport can help reduce work anxiety, it's important to first understand what work anxiety looks like.

Work anxiety is different from stress. Stress is a normal reaction to a difficult situation – that's your body's way of preparing you to deal with a challenge.

Work anxiety is different. It's an ongoing feeling of dread or unease about your job. It can be caused by many factors, such as:

  • Job insecurity: Worrying that you might lose your job, or not being able to find another job if you do lose yours.

  • Long hours: Working long hours can lead to burnout, which can cause anxiety.

  • Difficult bosses/clients: Dealing with difficult people at work can also raise anxiety levels.

If you're experiencing work anxiety, you might feel like you're constantly on edge. You might have difficulty concentrating, or you might even start to experience physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches.

How Does Combat Sport Reduce Work Anxiety?

It may seem counterintuitive, but participating in combat sport, which is normally perceived as quite an intense and stressful physical activity, can actually help you to feel more relaxed and less anxious about your work.

Here's how regular participation in combat sport can help:

1. It Helps to Release Pent-Up Frustration and Stress

If you're feeling frustrated or stressed about your job, participating in combat sport can help to release that frustration in a healthy and constructive way.

When you're feeling anxious, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode. This means that your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and your muscles tense up.

Combat sport helps to release this tension in a healthy way. When you're sparring or grappling, all of your focus is on the present moment. You have to be completely in the moment, or you'll get hit. I like to call this "getting out of your head, and into your body."

This focus can help to clear your mind and give you a break from all the worries and stressors in your life.

2. It Helps You to Develop a "Growth Mindset"

Combat sport can also help to reduce work anxiety by helping you to develop a "growth mindset."

A growth mindset is a belief that you can always improve and get better at something, no matter how difficult it seems.

This is in contrast to a fixed mindset, which is the belief that your ability level and situation is set in stone, and there's nothing you can do to change it. When you have a fixed mindset, you're more likely to give up when things get tough. You might avoid challenging situations, because you're afraid of failing.

To paint the picture, when you're having a fixed mindset with work, you might think to yourself:

  • "I'm not good enough at my job, and I'll never be able to improve."

  • "My boss is never going to give me that raise, so why bother even trying?"

  • "I'm stuck in this low-level position forever."

On the other hand, having a growth mindset means thinking things like:

  • "I'm not good at my job yet, but I can always get better with practice."

  • "My boss might not give me that raise, but it's worth a shot to ask."

  • "I'm in a low-level position now, but I can work my way up if I try."

See the difference?

A fixed mindset keeps you feeling anxious with work. A growth mindset on the other hand, helps you to feel more confident, capable, and resilient.

Combat sport is a great way to develop a growth mindset because it's full of challenging situations. When you're sparring or grappling, you're constantly pushed outside of your comfort zone. You have to learn new techniques and try to apply them in a live situation. This forces you to think on your feet and problem-solve in real-time.

All of this helps to develop a growth mindset, which will carry over into other areas of your life, including your work and personal relationships.

3. It Teaches You How To Cope With Difficult Situations

Combat sport reduces work anxiety by teaching you how to deal with difficult situations.

In combat sport, there will be times when you get hit, or when you make a mistake. It's important to learn how to cope with these situations in a healthy way.

When you're faced with a difficult situation at work, it can be tempting to lash out, or to beat yourself up emotionally. However, this will only make the situation worse.

Learning how to cope with difficult situations in a healthy way is an important life skill that can help you to feel calm and more confident in your ability to handle whatever comes your way.

4. It Gives You a Sense of Accomplishment and Pride

Finally, participating in combat sport can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride.

When you first start training, it can be difficult. You might not be good at it, and you might get tired and frustrated easily. However, as you stick with it and see your improvement, you'll start to feel a sense of accomplishment.

You'll also be proud of yourself for committing to something challenging, and for pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone (which is where all the magic happens).

This sense of accomplishment and pride can help to boost your self-confidence, which can in turn help to reduce work anxiety.

Tips On Getting Started In Combat Sport

So now that you know how taking up combat sport can help you reduce work anxiety, the best way to get started is by finding a local club or gym that offers classes.

Most clubs will offer beginner classes, so you can learn the basics before progressing to more advanced techniques.

Now, I understand that you may be lacking in time and energy to participate in something like combat sport – and that might be stirring up some internal resistance. In fact, the thought of even committing to something outside of work as simple as attending a class might seem too much.

If that's you, I want you to try a little physical activity for me. It'll only take a total of 30 seconds.

Quick 30-Second Activity

In boxing, we have something called shadowboxing –that's when you throw punches at an imaginary opponent.

As an employee or entrepreneur, the basis of all your challenges are the battles in your own mind. Shadowboxing is a great metaphor for this – the battle against yourself.

Stand in front of a mirror, imagine your reflection is your opponent, and throw some punches at it (don’t break the mirror though!).

Do this for 15 seconds, trying to throw 15 punches in 15 seconds. Don't worry about technique - just imagine yourself as a world-class boxer as you do it.

Did you do it?

Great! How did that feel?

Now, I want you to do it again for another 15 seconds – but this time, I want you to really go for it — try to throw 30 punches in 15 seconds.

Imagine your reflection represents all of the obstacles in your world and you’re punching through them (again, watch out for the mirror!).

Did you do it?

Did you raise your heart rate?

How did that feel?

Hopefully, you felt a sense of empowerment and freedom – like you could really let go and just be in the moment.

That's the feeling you regularly get when you're participating in combat sport. It’s something that you enjoy, and feels so good.

CounterPunch Your Work Anxiety

If you're ready to give it a try, then find a local club or gym and give it a go!

Or, if you're still a little unsure about jumping head-first into a class, search up "boxing follow-along workouts" on YouTube, and get started there.

You might just be surprised at how much you enjoy it, and how it can help you to reduce work anxiety.

Mercedas is currently offering to present free mental fitness seminars at combat gyms worldwide. If you’re interested in learning a little more or know someone who might be interested in hosting a FREE mental fitness seminar at their gym, visit here.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Mercedas Taaffe-Cooper, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mercedas Taaffe-Cooper, is the creator of the CounterPunch™ Method - a 20 to 24-week results-based program that utilizes a mix of performance psychology, sports science and combat sport. The program teaches teenagers practical tools to both understand and effectively master the life skills needed to manage emotions such as stress, anxiety, anger and depression. CounterPunch has been featured in the 730 show on ABC TV, Channel 9 in Australia, The Sunday Territorian, YouthWise magazine and validated its methodology over a 2-year, state government-funded study with the Menzies School of Health Research.



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