Rugby As A Healthy Defense Mechanism

Rugby As A Healthy Defense Mechanism The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp. Though most people join rugby because it is a fun and exhilarating sport, others play it […]

Rugby As A Healthy Defense Mechanism

The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Though most people join rugby because it is a fun and exhilarating sport, others play it to improve their mental health. Many people struggle with painful, or even harmful, emotions and look to sports as a healthy way to release them. This is an example of a mature and healthy form of defense mechanism that helps the person heal rather than cause more distress.

But what are defense mechanisms, and why do we use them? Read on to learn more about the basics of defense mechanisms and how rugby can help you with your stressors.

What Are Defense Mechanisms?
Defense mechanisms are strategies that people use to minimize and avoid distressing events, thoughts, or emotions. These mechanisms allow people to put distance between themselves and these stressors rather than deal with them directly. Though many defense mechanisms are used to avoid situations permanently that need to be addressed, some mechanisms are healthy and allow people to process the situation in a healthy way or only temporarily.

There are many defense mechanisms that humans use, which are typically categorized into four categories: pathological, immature, neurotic, and mature. The first three categories are subconscious mechanisms and are generally unhealthy and may cause more distress in the long run. Mature defense mechanisms are conscious acts that help the situation or delay the distress until it is safe to address it. Playing rugby or a similar sport is a mature defense mechanism for many people.

How People Use Rugby As A Defense Mechanism
Many people try out rugby or similar sports as a way of finding a healthy release for their aggression and other powerful emotions. When overwhelmed by these feelings of rage, sadness, or fear, some people may have the desire to act out or harm others. However, these actions are socially unacceptable and can cause real harm. Therefore, some people sign up for sports, such as rugby, to act out on those urges in a way that is socially acceptable. Partaking in these sports gives them an outlet for their powerful emotions so that they don’t use them to harm others.

This is a classic form of defense mechanism called sublimation. Sublimation is the act of processing unhealthy or unacceptable emotions, desires, and behaviors into more socially acceptable actions. Another example of this occurs when people experiencing anger use that energy to work on physical tasks (such as chores) or partake in exercise.

What Are Some Other Healthy Defense Mechanisms?
When you read about defense mechanisms, you may find that many of the most common forms are actually immature, unhealthy, or pathological. However, like sublimation, there are a few more options that are mature and can help you healthily work through the distressing situation or emotion. Some other mature defense mechanisms include:

Altruism: Altruism is the act of bringing happiness and well-being to others. People with this defense mechanism use their energy and emotions to help others rather than focus on themselves.
Anticipation: Anticipation is the realistic planning for future distress or uncomfortable situations. Planning for an event to occur can reduce any feelings of disappointment, betrayal, or despair. Though the event may still cause some distress, the person is often prepared for it and can handle it appropriately.
Humor: People with this defense mechanism use laughter and jokes to diffuse the situation. This brings pleasure to themselves and others while diminishing the stress the situation causes. The person is not ignoring the reality of the situation, just minimizing the potential emotional damage.
Suppression: Suppression is the conscious effort to avoid focusing on a distressing thought or emotion in order to keep the focus on the present. Unlike repression, it is not an unconscious act to deny reality. People who use this defense mechanism come back to these thoughts and emotions when it is more suitable or appropriate to process them.

Final Thoughts On Defense Mechanisms
We can’t live life fully as a human without experiencing some sort of situation, thought, or emotion that causes us some anxiety or distress. Because of this, humans have developed a series of defense mechanisms to help them with these situations. Playing rugby to release your emotions is an example of a defense mechanism that is healthy and useful. If you are interested in learning more about defense mechanisms and how they affect your life, you can find more information over at BetterHelp.

About Editor