People living with anxiety are often afraid to face their emotions. Their feelings can seem overwhelming, and it’s tempting to hide from these emotions. It’s natural to be fearful of facing anxiety because there are bottled up emotions within feeling anxious; however, once you’re able to get to the root cause of what’s causing your overwhelming feelings, By facing your anxiety you’ll start to feel less anxious.
How horror movies can help anxiety
You might be confused by the concept of horror movies helping anxiety rather than making it worse. When a person is anxious, they tend to avoid triggers or things that will cause them panic. The nature of horror movie relies on the element of anticipation. For somebody who has anxiety it might make them nervous to hear the suspenseful music and wonder when something horrible is going to happen; however, it watching a horror film could facilitate an atmosphere for exposure therapy, helping the person face their fears in a safe space. The exposure is for a limited time. Typically a horror movie is around 90 minutes or so. You only have to feel uncomfortable for less than two hours. You are always in control, and you can hit pause if you need to you to take a break.
When you’re watching a horror movie, like the popular series Halloween, you feel as if you’re inside the story. It’s an intense experience, and you are putting yourself in the position of the various characters; if you’re particularly empathetic, you might feel compassion for them or like you’re reliving their trauma. Maybe you’ve been through trauma, and even though it is intense, you are working through your past pain by feeling the emotions of the characters. Rather than running from your feelings, you’re confronting your fears. The good thing about a horror movie is that there’s an endpoint. You may be watching one of the Halloween films, and worry that it’s never going to end, but it will; unless you start the next film in the series. Much like a therapy session that’s packed with complex emotions, a scary film doesn’t last forever. You allow yourself to experience those intense feelings, process them, and then move on. Maybe it’s difficult at the moment, and you might want to run away, but if you can stay with your emotions. You might learn something about yourself.
It’s okay to take a break
If you’re watching a film from home, and you need to pause the movie that’s okay. Reward yourself for knowing your emotional limits. Self-care is essential, and you know when watching something is too intense for you. Maybe the scene is triggering, or it pushed your anxiety to the limit. It’s okay to stop the scene, take a break, and do something else. It could be helpful to watch something funny and break up the mood. Think about what could help you, and whatever allows you to stop the trigger and get past it, do that.
Learning about your feelings after the movie
Now that the movie is over, it’s time to reflect on what you learned. Allowing yourself to experience your emotions, and not run from them, allows you the opportunity to grow. Maybe you can journal about your experience, or talk to a friend, even it’s someone you just met. Another idea is to discuss your experience with a licensed therapist or psychologist. What you went through could stay with you. You might not be able to shake those emotions, and it could benefit you to speak to a mental health professional to analyze why those emotions are lingering. Whether you’re working with a therapist online or in your local area, it’s important to express your feelings and work through them. You might be aware of what your emotions are, but not know what to do with them. That’s where a therapist can help. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. You don’t need to be scared of your feelings.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.