stress and bjj

Stress and Brazilian Jiujitsu

Life is full of pressures for all of us. The perfect life balance and the energy to keep pushing forward is a really tough thing to come by, some days it even seems impossible to find. I recently had one of those days, maybe you can relate?

By day I’m a marketer at a digital agency, I’ve been doing this for over ten years so you’d think I’d have adjusted, but no. As an industry it’s fast-paced and it’s long unstructured hours at times. Last week the team had a big meeting in London that we’d spent weeks preparing for, which had meant late nights and missed training sessions in the run-up. The stress associated with missed training is a feeling we all know too well and understand the horrible feeling you get when you miss jiujitsu no matter how committed you want to be or how hard you tried to prioritise it.

The work meeting went well but the rest of the day was chaotic, on the back of an already chaotic January (sound familiar to anyone else? I bet it does) and without going into details it ended up being one of those days. I got to a state of heightened stress and anxiety purely because I let stress and anxiety take over. As a result, I barely arrived at training on time for the ladies class, I was stressed, fed up, I wanted to stop the world and get off.

I was done.

No more jiujitsu.

The balance was too hard what’s the point. If something’s got to give it can’t be my family or my work. I meant that’s what pays for training! Training is just an indulgence I can’t fit in right now. As I got changed into my gi in a hurry I thought to myself I want to be here, I want to balance a career and family and my love for jiujitsu but when does it ever work out how we plan? Even the stress of being at training was as tough as the thought of missing it. My head swirled with so many thoughts I couldn’t breathe. We’ve all had those days, right?

3-2-1 and… step on the mat.

Once I stepped on the mat and started training, it all melted away.

That work email from earlier. Gone.

My sister’s text I hadn’t replied to. Gone.

That hobnob biscuit that isn’t helping me reach my goals! Gone. Literally. I burned it off.

This was my time, my version of therapy. Those niggling issues were not a big deal any more, my anxiety eased and I forgot about it all while I applied my focus to the technique at hand.

My hectic life ceased to exist for the hour and a half that I dedicated to myself and allowed myself time to focus.

BJJ wasn’t just a personal indulgence this was something I needed to help move away from stress and anxiety, to find my internal balance and order.

I was able to let go of all those sources of stress and anxiety. BJJ training offers an opportunity to live in the moment, to practice and master mindfulness in a way, and all the while you are focusing on your training life’s chaoticness takes order.

Problems will still be there afterwards but you come back to them with a renewed perspective and the good feeling that you’ve just invested in yourself, your fitness and personal goals.

Although the balance of family life, a career and a hobby as intense as jiujitsu can be challenging, for me the benefit of personal investment to find the time to train has such a positive overflow into the test of my life, I know I couldn’t live without those moments. It’s a definitely a balance worth fighting for.