Few Exercises Have Made Me Feel as Powerful as This One

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I can’t exactly pinpoint the first time I had a panic attack or felt overly anxious. My mum says it’s down to my caring nature, which is basically a nice way of saying I care far too much and far too deeply. But hi, I’m Alyss, and I’m one of the many millennial women living with high-functioning anxiety.

According to the Office for National Statistics, I’m not alone—over a quarter of women in the UK suffer from anxiety or depression. What’s more worrying is the number of women suffering while still leading a fairly normal life. Appearing “normal” to you and me, carrying on with social events and work but going home and suffering in private.

On a daily basis, I probably experience about two to four bouts of insufferable anxiety—from heart palpitations to panic attacks to sleepless nights spent overthinking things over and over in my head (pointless, can I add). It’s not ideal and it’s certainly not good for my self-esteem. But through trial and error, I’ve learned how to manage it. And now, I’m testing out the waters for a new anxiety relief approach: boxing.

It’s no secret that exercise can help alleviate stress and anxiety. It’s something I discovered after moving to London alone for a job—my boyfriend and I knew we could make long distance work, but little did I know going from the comfort of living with him to living with complete strangers in a less-than-ideal flat would result in severe anxiety. Taking up running helped no end, it enabled me to disconnect from my thoughts and focus fully on the repetitive nature of running. But what about boxing?

Boxing is currently a bit of a buzzword. In fact, not only does Gigi Hadid love it, but boutique gyms are also popping up all over London—and for good reason. Therapist Chloe Brotheridge, anxiety expert at Calmer You and the author of The Anxiety Solution, told me that when we’re feeling anxious, we often feel low in confidence and as though we can’t cope. Learning something challenging (like boxing) and seeing ourselves improve helps to build our confidence. Boxing builds self-efficacy; our ability to trust that we can handle any challenges. She believes that in being present in the moment and literally on your toes it gets you out of your head and into your body.

Chloe’s statement really rang true to me, so I decided to give boxing a go at Kobox. As one of London’s very first boutique boxing gyms, Kobox offers high-intensity classes combined with heavy-bag boxing routines and functional strength training. It’s also conveniently located close to my flat and near work, so I decided to test it out over the space of two weeks. Read on to find out how I got on.