Many people shy away from fear and see it as a negative, a danger and something to be avoided. However, fear can sometimes be good for you! Fear can keep you on your toes and help you experience new things.
Here’s our top 10 reasons why a dose of fear every now and again can be good for you.
Fear keeps you safe
The fear instinct is the bodies’ internal danger alarm. The feelings of fear compel you to take action against danger. Without the fear instinct, you wouldn’t have an awareness of threats around you - so you wouldn’t be around very long! Fear gives you the flight or fight reaction to make decisions when you may be unsafe - such as if a car drives towards you when you’re crossing the road. Without fear - you wouldn’t be able to make a decision to help you stay safe.
Fear keeps you fit
Feeling scared and fear can help you burn more calories than when you are relaxed and not afraid. This is because when you feel scared, your pulse quickens, and your body receives a huge surge in adrenaline. This kick starts your metabolism into high gear, burning sugar and fat in your body, and your heart beats faster to get energy to your muscles. In fact, one study found that people watching horror movies burned 113 calories during the viewing!
Fear keeps you healthy
As well as keeping you fit, a dose of fear can also boost your immune system. Another study that utilized scary movies found that after watching a horror film, participants had a higher white blood cell count. This was proven by taking blood samples both before and after the film, and the physiological fear responses caused the film watchers to experience a lift in white blood cells. These cells enable your body to fight disease and infection, and boost your immune system.
Fear is exciting
A healthy dose of fear can be fun! Just like people love to watch scary movies, or ride roller coasters - or even do something a little more daring like skydiving - this is because that feeling of adrenaline can be exciting and makes you feel alive. When you feel fear, you generate excitement which can help to relieve depression - by increasing adrenaline. This also increases arousal and energy. A small dose of fear is a great way to inject some fun into your life!
Fear empowers you
Feeling fear can give you a natural sense of empowerment. As well as adrenaline, other chemicals are released when you feel scared, such as endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine. These chemicals actually help your brain work more efficiently. This is partly due to the fact that when you’re facing something scary, it's unknown and your brain has to work harder and focus. Coming through these challenges creates a natural biological high and feeling of empowerment.
Fear relaxes you
It may seem counterintuitive but feeling scared can actually relax you. Stress is fundamentally fear based. As you worry and stress, your body physically bombards you with adrenaline and dopamine, speeding up your heart rate and increasing your blood pressure - this activates the fight or flight response and floods your muscles with oxygen - helping your brain quieten down and helps you feel calm.
Fear helps you focus
Fear can stop you getting distracted and help you to focus. If you’re feeling scared or anxious about something in the future or something unknown, you can use that fear to help you focus on the present. When adrenaline is released through feeling afraid, another hormone called norepinephrine is released, which helps you to focus instead of panic. This hormone allows you to think clearly under stress, and it’s used in antidepressants.
Fear socializes you
When you’re afraid, the body releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that makes you seek out comfort in other people. This is due to the brain’s survival instinct, which is to pair with other humans to increase survival chances.
Fear opens up your life
When you’re fearful of something, sometimes the best approach is to face it head on and overcome your fear - rather than letting it stop you and limit you in life. Being afraid of something and overcoming it can expand your life to so many more opportunities. When you notice a fear, you’re altered to something in your life that could be limiting you - and it gives you the chance to expand your life.
Fear alerts you to the important things in life
If you’re fearful about something important to you, feeling afraid can alert you to the priorities in your life, and help you to understand how to nurture these aspects of your life.
By Amy Cavill
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