What sport you should go for to get rid of negative emotions
”S’émouvoir et se mouvoir” – how could I translate this French pun without spoiling the beauty of the rhyme? An almost literal attempt at translation would be “get moved to get moving”. Both verbs, “s’émouvoir” (to be moved) and “se mouvoir” (to move) come from the Latin “movere” and remind us that emotion is a … trigger for motion. Therefore, physical exercise can free us of negative emotions.
Emotion sets us in motion: anger drives us to bang our fists on the table, fear leaves us breathless, sadness fills our eyes with tears. Restlessness alters the heartbeat, body temperature, blood pressure, muscular and brain activity. The same happens when we exercise. Nothing could be more obvious than that: the two types of motion – the motion that takes place inside and the motion outside, that is the soul and the bodily motion – are dependent on each other. And the first regains its balance through the latter.
How does exercise affect our body?
Physical activity has, first of all, physiological effects: it uses up cortisol (the stress hormone), thus preventing it from … using us up. In addition, it produces endorphins, the happiness hormones, which keep negative reactions from manipulating us. Therefore, let us move with mindfulness. Let us identify the dominant emotion that is trying to enslave us and “treat” it with the most efficient physical activity.
Team play casts off sadness
When you feel sad, you have a tendency to take refuge in a corner, where you can sit still, all by yourself. Isolation, however, does nothing but feed this negative emotion. What you need is not solitude, but the compassionate smiles of the people who care about you and a type of physical activity which can help you accept imperfection and the inequity in the assignment of roles and responsibilities.
The right sport: Take advantage of the sun and the fine sand and throw together as many beach volley games with your family as you can. Passing the ball does not leave you enough time to give yourself up to dark thoughts and, additionally, it creates a certain complicity between the players. Amuse yourself skipping rope with the children. Toe the starting line at a jogging race – on the long run, this type of physical activity is more efficient than any antidepressant drug. And – very important – team up with people whose rhythm matches yours.
Harmonizing body postures quenches anger
Sprint, boxing, squash? Out of the question! These types of sports have to do with giving vent to your negative emotions and with aggressive gesticulation, which may be helpful for a moment, but are unable to deeply calm down a choleric temperament. Instead, experts recommend an activity which takes over the energy of anger and expresses it in a non-violent manner, stimulating self-control. The antidote to anger is kindness and cooperation – fair play, in sports terminology.
The right sport is the one that helps you control your breathing (which tends to accelerate and apply pressure on your rib cage when you are angry). Therefore, you should go for martial arts such as aikido, for instance. They are built on an empathy-based philosophy, where the stake is to destroy the attack, not the attacker.
Kyudo, or the traditional Japanese archery, which combines the art of controlling your movements with cultivating respect for others, aims to bring the body, mental and emotional postures into line. Oriental individual gym activities such as yoga, qi gong or tai-chi are equally valuable, but they are helpful only after you have already dealt with your anger. Otherwise, standing face to face with yourself, “off-the-cuff”, you risk to quickly abandon your exercise.
Trusting your teammate helps you overcome fear
What did your swimming instructor do when you were a 4-year old and the thought of diving in the deep water filled you with terror? He pushed you right in the middle of the pool. What did that make of him? A master of strategy! The same goes for those who recommend skydiving or para-gliding as a “therapy” against fear of heights. Resorting to a radical activity in the attempt to confront your fears may result in trauma. And the fear remains with you for the rest of your life. The only way you can overcome your fear is an experience that makes you feel completely safe as you go through it. An experience that gives you the courage to outdo yourself and to realize that, no matter how hard it is to control everything in life, you have all the resources you need to find solutions, step by step.
The right sport in this case is climbing, where fear (you know that an abyss opens under your feet) merges with confidence (you know that you are safe with a solid rope held tightly by a trusted partner). Climbing is a sport that teaches self-confidence and confidence in your partner. Paradoxically on the face of it, even a contact sport such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu is able to stimulate courage and composure: when you find yourself thrown to the ground, immobilized under your opponent’s body, you experience all at once a sense of helplessness and an instinctive desire to look deep inside for peace and tranquility.
Humanitarian cross race – the antidote to bitterness
If you were to go by your first impulse, you would perhaps invite one of your best friends to join you for a slow-paced walk and you would open your heart to them. Well, what do you think you would get from that? They would either pity you or share their own frustrations and resentments with you, just to make you feel “better” at the thought that “you are not alone” and they knows perfectly well what you are talking about… Either way, the result would be the same: the negative feeling will end up doubling.
Whenever someone or something “leaves you a bitter taste in your mouth” you need a change of environment – as a matter of fact, you need an environment that is quite opposite to the circumstances that made you feel that way. Bitterness fuses several types of emotion: frustration, deception, regret, anger, shame, vulnerability. The antidote to these emotions is an activity that helps you regain your centeredness: an activity that fills you with contentment, enables you to make the most of your qualities, and reminds you that life is beautiful…
The right type of sport is the one that restores your confidence in human solidarity and selflessness, such as a marathon for a humanitarian cause, which aims at eradicating a disease, supporting underprivileged children etc. Group (physical) effort, when it serves a noble cause, creates a huge positive energy shared by all participants and changes their perspective on the eternal human nature. Contemplative experiences have the same effect, although contemplation is a different kind of experience (you practice it all by yourself): strolling at a slow pace, in the company of a … shooting camera (snapshots have the quality of bringing to light aspects we usually ignore) or scuba diving (plunging in the underwater universe alters our reference points, compels us to abandon comforting automatisms, “condemns” us to daydreaming and forgetting about ourselves and the world that begins and ends at the water surface).
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What sport you should go for to get rid of negative emotions by Technology for Life is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.