As Halloween approaches, a look at the health benefits of a “safe alert” – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth


DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s the time of year for haunted houses and horror movies, and it turns out there can be some health benefits to giving yourself a scare.

“Every time someone jumps up and you scream, you immediately laugh because we know we’re in a safe place,” said Dr. Christa McIntyre Rodriguez, associate professor of neuroscience at UT Dallas. “This safe fear is what we really want.”

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She said these frightening events can serve as an outlet where you can release pent-up fears.

The doctor said it can also help you feel stronger and stronger.

“We go through this sympathetic fight or flight response, where our heart rate increases, our lung capacity increases, our blood flow begins to train the muscles so that we can run fast if we have to.” said Dr McIntyre Rodriguez. “We are very alert and it can actually be very pleasant and stimulating for people if they know they are really safe.”

A study earlier this year even found that fans of horror films cope better with the pandemic.

He also found that fans of so-called “prepper” films about alien invasions or a zombie apocalypse feel better prepared for the pandemic.

“All these things that scare us and wear us out, the mortgage, the student loans, the debt, the pressure from society, it’s all in you, but it’s not something you can shout at,” said Allen Hopps, Senior Director of Dark Hour. Haunted house in Plano. “So you come here, we put a face on it, and it’s a dump valve.”

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For Hopps, there’s the added benefit of the thrill of fear.

“There’s a monster in my head, and then I can do it for real and see it walk around and see people react,” Hopps said. “I think it’s the most powerful feeling in the world, that I had something in my head and now other people are reacting and responding to it.”

Dr McIntyre Rodriguez said your teens are most likely to seek out experiences like haunted houses and horror movies.

She said it’s a developmental stage, kids learn to take risks and get out on their own. It can actually be good for them.

Click here for more information on the study.

Here is more from Dr. McIntyre Rodriguez:

Halloween scares can have some good spooky benefits, neuroscientist says

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