Going to a haunted house probably tops everybody's list of must-do entertainment for the fall, but you might want to turn to one of these popular attractions to power up at work, too. The physiological responses you have when the tricks in the house scare you actually can put you in a better mood and help you cope with work-related anxiety better.

What fear does to your body

When you are afraid for any reason, your body's sympathetic nervous system kicks in. This is the part of your nervous system associated with the "fight-or-flight" response, which gets you ready to handle emergencies by elevating your heart rate, quickening your breath and preparing your muscles to work. Additionally, your body releases endorphins. Because critically thinking through a threat often can be endangering--you'd get eaten if you took five minutes to ponder how to stop the lion lunging at you, for example--the rational centers of your brain take a back seat.

How the fight-or-flight response can help at work

Now, you might think that engaging a stress response wouldn't be that desirable, considering that work already can be pretty stressful for most people. But for some individuals, having a good, short-term scare means they can clear their heads and stop thinking so much for a little while. They feel energized by the experience because part of the fight-or-flight response is to make more glucose and oxygen available to the brain and muscles so you can tackle the threat. The rush of endorphins also helps them feel a little happier and better able to address confidence-killing stressors.

So there it is. The perfect excuse to get yourself to a haunted house. If you can't find the time to do that, and assuming others in the office wouldn't appreciate a random Halloween prank-a-thon, no worries--there's always scary footage to tune in to on your smartphone.

Published on: Oct 28, 2016
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