If you’re celebrating Halloween this week, you’ll know that beyond the fun of fancy dress, pumpkin carving, and kids yelling ‘trick or treat’, there’s usually something scary in store.
In the past you might have screamed in terror at the latest horror film, jumped out of your skin if the doorbell went late at night, or felt the cold prickle of fear when alone in the dark. But while some of us revel in the excitement, others go to great lengths to avoid these heart-racing experiences. However, it might surprise you to learn that these short bursts of fear can actually be beneficial to your health. Here’s what this year’s thrills and spills could do for you...
Scaring ourselves silly is the perfect opportunity to kick back, as our brain sends our body into fight-or-flight mode, leading to the production of adrenalin and the pleasure hormones serotonin and dopamine. ‘Fear is not all bad. It can be pretty wonderful,’ reveals sociologist Dr. Margee Kerr in a TEDx Talk. ‘Doing something scary can feel rewarding. The more intense or scarier people report the experience, the greater their mood increases.’ To understand your own response to threat, practice being afraid in different situations and notice how your body reacts.
A good scare may actually help you fight a cold this winter, as sudden surges of fear can improve immune function. Scientists at the University of Coventry found that after watching a scary movie for the first time, adults had increased levels of white blood cells – which play an important role in fighting disease and infection.
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