It’s no secret that virtually everyone experiences stress and anxiety in their lives. Some people, unfortunately, have more than their fair share of it than others. Of course, the good news is there are plenty of ways for everyone to reduce stress and anxiety in their lives.
It might not make a lot of sense, but some individuals find that watching scary movies helps them relax. How does watching a scary horror movie help you de-stress and calm down from a particularly rough day?
Does feeling terrified really help you to relax?
It sounds like a strange concept - getting very scared about something to the point of relaxation. Yet for some people, watching a horror movie over Halloween or at any other time is precisely the sort of thing that can help them relax after an incredibly stressful day.
So, what’s it all about? It turns out that some individuals find relief through watching scary movies due to how their brain’s limbic system works. In a nutshell, the limbic system is a set of structures in the brain that deals with emotions and memory.
The brain’s limbic system regulates the body’s unconscious or endocrine functions in response to emotional stimulants. It also plays a part in reinforcing behaviour.
When you watch a horror film, the limbic system responds to anxiety-arousing scenes like they were happening in real life. Your brain subconsciously detects those negative emotional experiences and prepares you for those potentially terrifying events.
The thing is, the conscious part of your brain simultaneously recognises that those scary events aren’t real and that you’re simply sitting down on your sofa and watching a horror flick.
The interesting thing to take away from those facts is how people’s minds can easily manage anxiety in a controlled environment. Scientific researchers have suggested that those with anxiety-related disorders could watch scary movies to help them relax more.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, around 8.2 million people in the UK experienced anxiety in 2013. That’s a staggering number, given that it equates to roughly 12% of Britain’s
How horror films can help some people to de-stress
So far, you’ve read how the brain deals with scary movies if you have an anxiety disorder and find it hard to relax. But, what are the ways that such actions can help some individuals to reduce their stress and be less anxious, especially when they’ve had a stressful day?
Scary movies provide a welcome distraction from life
One obvious fact about scary movies is they aren’t real. When you experience an anxiety-related disorder each day, you’ll often find it stressful to cope with many of life’s situations.
Sitting down and watching a slasher movie, for example, will provide your brain with a welcome distraction from your real-life stress-inducing situations. Your brain focuses on what you’re watching, rather than the hundreds of negative thoughts and emotions in your mind.
They help to normalise stressful events in your life
Many scientific researchers and psychiatrists note that watching scary movies can help you normalise your real-life anxiety-inducing events. Horror films help some people create a broad anxiety spectrum, with such movies at the higher end of it.
As a result, it helps those people tell themselves that their anxiety might be bad, but things could be much worse.
Horror movies can be therapeutic
One point to consider is how horror movies can potentially be therapeutic to people trying to de-stress their lives. That’s because watching those films is something they can control, and it helps to make sense of some uncomfortable emotions they experience daily.
Another thing to bear in mind is that scary movies can be relaxing. Scary scenes put a person’s mind into “fight or flight” mode, and eventually the body relaxes and calms down to restore inner balance and peace.
How to de-stress and relax with a scary movie
There’s plenty of scientific research to show that people with anxiety can de-stress and relax by watching some scary movies. If you want to give that a go, how should you prepare for your horror-themed movie night?
First of all, it makes sense to choose a suitably scary movie. You might have an extensive selection to choose from in your DVD collection, or you could stream a film from Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Next, don’t forget to have some snacks and drinks ready before your movie starts. After all: the last thing you want to do is pause your movie half-way through to get some popcorn!