Martial Arts is a lot like life in general. To succeed, you need to manage your surroundings as well as wear really cool outfits. You need a calm mind and the physical and mental skills to deal with the stress around you. “People confuse problems with stress,” says Philip Holder, chief instructor and Grand Master at the North American Wing Chun Association, in Gainesville, Florida. “We all have problems, and we can choose either to let them stress us out or to do something about the situation.”

Elementary advice, maybe, but Holder has adapted his martial-arts training to help his students cope with chronic stress.

Here’s the routine:

  • Set aside a time every day when you won’t be disturbed. Find a quiet place, and lie down on your back with pillows under your head and knees.
  • Breathe deeply and evenly, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Each time you exhale, think, ‘I am relaxed’ and picture any anxiety, tension and stress leaving with each breath.
  • Starting with the soles of the feet, consciously relax each area of your body, imagining a warm feeling washing slowly from your feet to the top of your head.
  • Once you’re completely relaxed, picture yourself handling the problem that’s causing your stress, running through an entire scenario of how you’d like to deal with it.

“If you do this every day, you’ll find you gravitate more to that behavior.” Holder says. “You’re really just doing a behavior modification on yourself.”


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