Mental Health Benefits of Boxing: Finding Flow
This post was produced in partnership with Prospect Farms and BoxUnion as a part of our Mental Health Week Initiative. Join us on social @ProspectFarmsMaine to learn more!
“The first step to getting mentally fit is to get physically fit.”
I can still remember vividly the first time I set foot in a boxing gym. I immediately felt out of place. The intense energy, mean-looking trainers and pungent smell of stale sweat almost scared me back into the car within the first five minutes of being in the place. I was a small, frail 14-year-old boy that was in dire need of a big boost of confidence and a sense of self-worth. My dad knew this, and despite every attempt to get out of the training that was to come, he calmly affirmed to me, as he always did, “It’s good for you.”
It was good for me.
Actually, those weekly boxing sessions at 14 years old were probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. Boxing led to running, running led to strength training, strength training led to yoga, and so on and so forth. As I built myself up physically, I also began to realize and cultivate the power that exists inside of me — the power that exists in each and every one of us.
That’s what exercise, and fitness in general, provides for us. It’s not only a means of building muscle, losing fat, boosting immunity and improving sleep, but also an opportunity to prove to ourselves that everything we’re searching for externally is already there for us internally — it’s just a matter of pulling it out. If we can bring strength, discipline, courage, grace and determination (just to name a few) to our physical training sessions, then there is no reason why we can’t bring those same qualities to every other endeavor in our lives.
Eventually, boxing also led me to BoxUnion, where I am humbled and grateful to now have a front row seat to watch people’s lives transform on a daily basis through the sport that did the same exact thing for me when I was little. Whether it be in our physical studios or on BoxUnion Digital, the most rewarding part of my job is hearing from our members what our class and our coaches have done for them.
Our mission has always been to provide an accessible, unintimidating way to introduce boxing to the masses and help you Find Your Inner Fighter. Through our Box To The Beat philosophy that pairs punches and movements to the beat of the music, we’ve developed a workout predicated entirely on the science of flow.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who pioneered the first investigations into optimal experience in his book “Flow,” flow is “the state in which people are so involved in any activity that nothing else seems to matter.” Effectively, when you are in a state of flow, you are totally and completely in the zone, living deeply in each moment. To me personally, I see flow as the state in which you are your truest, most authentic, happiest self — when you are in total alignment.
What this means is that enjoyment doesn’t necessarily depend on what you do, but more on how you do it. To enter a state of flow and “change the contents of your consciousness,” there are a few key components to address:
- Learning of skills.
- Clear attainable goals.
- Immediate feedback.
- Challenges, obstacles and setbacks.
When you’re not taking our classes in-studio or online, if you want to fully relieve stress, improve focus and memory, and build up mental resilience you must make sure these five ingredients are accounted for.
And, if you really want to get the most out of your workouts there is a sixth ingredient I always like to add into the mix: Recovery. As you start to partake in more and more exercise designed for flow, the need for more post-workout recovery will become evident. Workouts where you enter a state of flow just hit differently. I recommend these strategies for repairing muscle fibers and decreasing inflammation: lots of water, ice baths/cold showers, red light therapy, infrared sauna, massage, meditation and Prospect Farms topical products.
Like any other activity or skill, the key to growth and development is consistency. Prioritizing recovery after each training session will enable you to stick to your fitness routine, maintain balanced mental health and keep you on the path to becoming the best you possible.
Ready to Find Your Flow?
BoxUnion has partnered with Prospect Farms, Strideline and Myles for the ultimate strong body, strong mind starter set. Enter HERE to win a 6-month subscription to BoxUnion Digital, a $250 gift certificate to Strideline, a $250 gift certificate to Myles Apparel, and a 750mg Natural Balance Protect & Relief Topical, a 750mg Dream Topical and a 750mg Balance tincture from Prospect Farms.