Why Martial Arts Instructors Must Take Care of Themselves First

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Running your own school and stress go hand in hand. Stress can be a real plus in keeping you motivated to continually improve your program. If left unchecked, however, it can be detrimental to your health and to the success of your school


If you own a studio and teach martial arts, your professional life will be particularly challenging and stressful. 
Stress can manifest itself in many ways.

If you are highly stressed, you may have experienced a few of these symptoms:

1. Depression

2. Loss of appetite

3. You may either sleep too much, or suffer from insomnia

4. Eat or drink too much

5. Irritability

6. Mood swings

7. Lack of interest in activities you normally enjoy doing

8. Forgetfulness

9. Indigestion

10. Anxiety

11. Lack of endurance

12. High blood pressure

13. Preoccupied

14. Nervous twitching

15. Chronic headaches

16. Muscular tension resulting in chronic pain in your back and shoulders

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make a point of resolving the issues that are at the root of the stress you are experiencing immediately.

Not only does your health depend on this, the success of your school is also at risk. Your staff, students, and the parents of your students, will notice that you are chronically cranky and not teaching your class with the enthusiasm that they’ve come to expect from you.

Bad stress – the kind that causes health problems – often stems from feeling that we are not in control of important situations in our life. Family problems, financial problems, or just trying to keep all the balls in the air at the same time, can leave us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

First, find a quiet spot to sit and think about what is creating the stress in your life.

Create a detailed list of situations that you feel are causing you the most stress. 

Then analyze each situation and come up with solutions to each of your problems. This is a brainstorming activity designed to help you realize that you are, indeed, in control.

Your problems won’t dissolve away, however, once you realize that you are in control of many of the aspects of your stressors, your stress will be reduced considerably.

For instance, you may take on the lion’s share of the work at your school because you have difficulty delegating duties to your assistant instructors. You are overworked and you’re beginning not to enjoy your chosen profession anymore.

First, you need to ask yourself why you are having difficulty sharing work with others at your school. Do you feel that they are not qualified? Would you feel left out if some of the less important decisions were made by your assistants?

A couple of solutions come to mind:

1. Cross-train your staff to handle some of the responsibilities that you currently have

2. Hire additional staff

3. Most importantly, learn to delegate some of your less important responsibilities to your assistant instructors. Let them do the work and have them keep you informed about the status of these responsibilities

You may feel anxious when you realize that the amount of work you have seems to exceed the time you have available to do it. You can remedy this by creating a list of long-term goals and prioritizing them in the order of importance. 

Begin each morning by creating a prioritized “to do” list you’d like to accomplish that day. This should be a list of duties you feel that you can easily achieve in one day. Make sure that you allow time for unexpected interruptions. As you finish each item on your list, mark it off as completed. 

The benefits of creating a daily “to do” list is two-fold. First, you’ll be able to focus on what’s most important. Secondly, you’ll have the satisfaction of accomplishing what’s you’ve set out to do that day. It’s a win-win solution.