Boxing is as much mental as it is physical. At the very highest level of competition, the difference between winning and losing is the fighter’s mentality. Both boxers will be physically primed to endure 10-12 rounds of explosive exertion. The physical conditioning and preparation for a fight is very much in the control of the boxer; this is the easy part. Preparing mentally is far harder. When the bell rings, can you control your adrenaline, retain composure under fire, with the confidence to resist intimidation or self-doubt, harness fear and project it on to your opponent, with the depth of desire to fight through the pain.
At any level, competitive and non-contact boxing training brings untold physical and mental benefits. This article focuses on the mental benefits of non-contact, recreational boxing.
Learning how to punch properly and unlocking your full power is an awakening. The moment you hear a full volume smack of your glove hitting the pads or bag, the exhilaration will have you hooked. Then learning how to harness your power while throwing bunches of punches gives your confidence a great lift and this transfers to daily life, boosting self-efficacy and the ability to deal with challenging situations better.
There are four things that can lift mood; a sense of achievement, enjoyment, closeness to others and somethings that’s beneficial to the body. Boxing has all four. It’s inclusive, social and something to look forward to. Whether it’s in a class, hitting the pads or holding someone’s feet while they do sit-ups, you’re never doing this alone.
3) Combat Depression and Anxiety
A spike in physical activity releases neurochemicals like endorphins and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Endorphins are nature’s pain killer and act like a blissful sedative; serotonin regulates mood, dopamine signals reward and noreprinephrine enhances alertness, helping you focus. This cocktail of neurochemicals and transmitters drives communication between brain cells to better regulate physical and emotional health.
4) Stress Relief
Boxing is a proven way to de-stress and ease tension – hitting things is both fun and therapeutic. Exercise releases norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter) improving cognition and clarity of thought clouded by stressful events. Central and sympathetic nervous systems work together, improving the body’s ability to respond to stress. Exercise further helps balance stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
5) Active Meditation
When your body is busy, your mind is distracted and free. Co-ordinating combinations while trying to hit a moving target, takes focus and one has to be entirely present. This distraction is a break from the outside world and clears the mind.
At whatever level you’re boxing, it will put you on the edge of your physical comfort zone and this is where we grow. Each time you push one more inch, there is a cascade of mental benefits. The body only achieves what the mind believes.
Article by Max Fraser, Founder of REAL
High-performance sportswear, inspired by boxers