Go ahead and get spooked!
‘Tis the season for spooks and spirits, spine-chilling stories and hair-raising horror movies. And while we typically tend to give fear and fright negative connotations, it actually turns out that they’re not so bad after all. In fact, they may be reaping you health benefits. “Fear, or getting scared, is an emotion that’s part of our biology as human beings, just like other emotions such as sadness, joy and anger,” says Dr Steve Orma, PsyD, clinical psychologist and author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep: How to Put Insomnia to Bed for Good. “It serves a purpose that’s crucial to our ability to survive.” Here are six solid reasons to increase the spook level on your scare meter this Halloween.
Being scared alerts you to harm
This might be the most obvious reason, but it’s definitely the most important. “Fear is our internal alarm bell for danger,” says Dr Orma. “Without the ability to feel fear, we wouldn’t live very long because we wouldn’t be aware of, or care about, the threats around us.” When we get scared, our bodies react physically so we can handle the danger, also known as our fight-or-flight response. This response gets triggered when we perceive some danger or threat to ourselves. “Without the fear response when we’re in dangerous situations, we wouldn’t have the energy, strength, focus or speed to fight or flee,” says Dr Orma. If a car is racing toward us, our fear gives us the ability to react in a split second and jump out of the way. Without the fear, we would get hit.”
A little fear can help you live life to the fullest
When we fear something, we have a choice: We can let the fear stop us or we can face the fear and conquer it head-on, expanding the possibilities and opportunities in our life. “Being afraid of something can alert us to an area in our life that we’re limiting ourselves or avoiding, for example a fear of rejection which causes us to avoid dating,” says Dr Orma. “By facing this fear, and conquering it, we have the ability to attain a rewarding romantic relationship.” The same goes for more physical and external fears, like the fear of flying. But if we face the fear, and muster up the courage to step foot on an aeroplane, we can travel the world. “Being scared has the psychological effect of ‘putting life in perspective,’ thus serving as a great coping mechanism,” says Dr John Mayer, leading practising psychologist, author and expert on violence. “Seeing scary things gives us the sense of: ‘Wow! My life and what I’m dealing with is really not that bad after all.’” By facing fears in areas that are limiting us, we expand our experience and potential for success because nothing can stop us. If nothing can stop you, you’ll be able to create the life you want or get very close, and that will be extremely rewarding. You’ll also have fewer regrets.