14 | Horror movies and anxiety.

October is my favorite month of the year and for those who know me, you know exactly why!

October brings with it all things creepy and horrifying (along with Daylight Savings giving us an extra hour of darkness.) I mean, it’s the month of Halloween after all! Just the perfect atmosphere for scary movies, hot beverages and cozy autumn vibes. I like to call this month Spooky October (or #spooktober for Instagram hashtag purposes.)

So for the month of October, content on R E D H E A D will be spooky, yet insightful! And how can we even begin #spooktober without discussing horror movies.

Okay. You’re going to think this is silly, and it could very well be… but you know how some people get a rush of feel-good endorphins by engaging in adventurous (and sometimes risky) activities such as skydiving, or mountain climbing, or rollercoaster riding? Well, I get my endorphin rush with horror movies.

Where some people get those rushes and thrills from the chaos and the uncontrollable, I seek that the rush of endorphins by watching a scary movie in a controlled and contained environment (also known as the comfort of my bed or couch.) The feelings of anxiety and fear we experience while watching a scary movie are similar, but different to those feelings we experience in other life situations. What’s different is we know that we are watching a movie, and that it’s not real, and therefore we better manage how we response to them. I never truly discovered this before until I read a VICE article a couple of years ago about why people with anxiety enjoy (and even find comfort in) watching horror movies.

I had never given much thought to why I loved the horror movie genre so much until reading that article. It wasn’t until reading some of the reasons why individuals with anxiety enjoy watching horror movies that I began to notice the same about myself. In a way, I feel the feelings of anxiety and fear while watching a horror movie are more manageable? According to the article by Huffington Post, horror movies can provide us with a helpful distraction from our everyday anxiety, while also allowing us to experience these feelings in a more controlled setting (e.g., on our couch or bed, in front of a screen). Psychology Today had even posted an article saying that horror movies may reduce anxiety in some individuals. Of course, not everyone gets the same experience from horror movies, but as someone who has anxiety, I definitely see and feel the evidence of that statement when I watch a really good scary film.

The brain’s limbic system has a primary role in responding to anxiety-arousing scenes in movies as if these negative emotional experiences were real. When watching a horror movie, the amygdala detects emotions of fear and prepares us for frightening events, while our conscious perception recognizes that these alarming events are not real. This implies that we can vicariously experience negative emotions in a controlled environment which may be useful for managing anxiety.

Psychology Today, Horror Films May Reduce Anxiety for Some Individuals

In a weird and interesting way, horror movies can almost act as a form of exposure therapy by exposing you to the intense emotions, but in a controlled environment so you’re better able to deal and adapt to them, and learn ways to manage them.


DISCLAIMER: I do NOT advocate myself as a psychologist or mental health professional. Please refer to the articles and their references for more information, or your healthcare provider.

Phew!

I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who feels this way with horror movies. It’s certainly a strange concept, feeling less anxious during and even after watching an anxiety-inducing film, but when you think about the reasoning behind why it truly does make sense.

On that note, let’s check out some of my favorite horror movies!

Horror Favorites

Here are just a few (definitely not all) of my favorite horror movies, from some classics to some hidden gems. If you haven’t watched any of these horror movies, I highly recommend adding them to your list!



And if you’re interested to see some of the more recent horror movies of 2020, check out the video below:


If you took the time to read this blog post, my heart is full. Are you big into horror movies like me? If so, what are some of your favorite horror movies? Let’s continue the discussion below (perhaps with a nice cup of coffee, heh.)

And reader, I want to thank you for reading up to this point in the post. Writing is an outlet I am passionate about, but hardly allow myself to do. I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and look forward to reading future blog posts on this site. I will be posting content every Saturday — so mark it on your calendar or even better, subscribe to my blog so you get alerted when the next post goes live. Also, look out for future blog/vlog videos, exclusive content and just more positive energy to float your way.

Chat again next Saturday!

9 thoughts on “14 | Horror movies and anxiety.

  1. Couldn’t agree more: Horror movies are my anti-anxiety medication in October. They seem to help when I’m overwhelmed at work. Such a wonderful (and strange) escape. Great write up on the science and psychology!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This makes sense to me, and some horror movies I absolutely love (The VVitch, Blair Witch Project). So many people assume I love scary movies though bc of my love of Halloween and anything witchy or supernatural… but the truth is most of the time I can’t watch them. They wreck me! Because while so many people state “they’re not real”, for me – in terms of supernatural content – I believe it can be and I believe in the law of attraction and I don’t want to attract any of that stuff to me lol. I know how that sounds but mannnn with the things I’ve experienced in my life, I ain’t taking any chances haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh yes! Horror movies are one of the big reasons I love Halloween! They’re how I spend Friday and Saturday nights every October! And btw, I really love how the jack-o-lanterns are carved.

    Liked by 1 person

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