How To Calm Down If You're Scared From A Ghost Story

Halloween is on the horizon, and it's fun to get into the spirit of things by watching a scary movie or reading some terrifying paranormal tales. If you love the horror genre but hate the lingering after affects (like laying awake at night trembling with fear), learning how to calm down if you're scared from a ghost story is a valuable tool. Around this time of year, our minds turn to ghouls, goblins, and graveyards. The modern Halloween holiday has roots in the ancient Gaelic celebration Samhain, where it was believed that on the eve of Oct. 31 the border between the spirit world and earth overlapped and the dead could cross into the world of the living. Super creepy, I know.

While none of us want to be actually tormented by an otherworldly being, listening to or reading scary stories produce a natural high that can be quite enjoyable. When we are scared our body produces the stress hormone Cortisol as well as a rush of adrenaline, giving us the "thrilling" flight or fight response. Even though you know the scenarios in the story are imagined, your heart beat speeds up and your blood pressure increases. This can make you feel more awake and alive — like drinking too much coffee too quickly. If you are badly shaken by a really creepy story, the continued stress response can make it difficult to relax, sleep, or be alone. Here are a few helpful techniques to calm down, so this Halloween season you will be able to read all the creepypasta you can stomach!

1. Accept Your Fears

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After hearing a scary story, your first instinct will be to push those troubling thoughts out of your mind. However, if you don't address your fears they may return later, leaving you tossing and turning all night long. To get over your fright, acknowledge that you are upset, and that is OK. Think about what from the story is troubling you exactly, and remind yourself that you are scared because of the story which is a work of fiction. You can also write down a list of your fears and thoughts — seeing them on paper may make them seem silly, and help you move past them.

2. Comfort Yourself

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To break the cycle of replaying the scary thoughts and images over and over, remind yourself that it was just a story and the make-believe characters can't hurt you. Analyze why you are feeling scared and try to frame the feeling it in a positive light. Your body produced a healthy response to fear, and that is a good thing. Remind yourself that being scared is natural, you are definitely not alone in these feelings.

3. Practice Mindfulness

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Instead of focussing on scary thoughts, ground yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness techniques can help with anxiety, worry, and stressful or negative thoughts. Anchor yourself by focussing on the lower half of your body. First observe how your bare feet feel on the floor, or the socks against your feet, and your shoes against the ground. Your eyes can be open or closed for this activity. Once you are feeling a bit calmer, focus on your legs, starting with your calves and working your way up. Do they feel hot or cold? Heavy or light? Paying attention to all the little discernible sensations will help you get out of your head.

4. Deep Breathing

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As part of the stress response produced by a scary story, your heart rate speeds up as well as your breathing. To restore emotional balance it helps to slow down your breathing. If you are feeling nervous, inhale deeply through your nose and count up to six filling your lungs, as you breathe out through your mouth count to ten. Try listening to some soothing music while doing the breathing exercises to help you chill out even further. After doing this deep breathing for about a minute, you should feel noticeably calmer.

5. Distract Yourself

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Now that you have accepted your fears, and grounded yourself in the moment, you are free to distract yourself. Clear your mind of bad thoughts by watching a diverting sitcom that makes you laugh or a comforting movie. It's hard to stay scared during a Seinfeld marathon. No soup for you!

6. Meditate

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If the scary thoughts won't seem to leave you alone, meditation is an excellent way to quiet the mind and help you find some inner calm. There are many apps and online resources that will lead you through the meditation style of your choice, ranging from three minutes to 30 minutes a session. Check out Calm's sample meditations or UCLA's free guided meditations to learn more about how to find your inner zen.

7. Exercise

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Physical activity can reduce anxiety, so some light cardio might be helpful. Lace up those sneakers and take a little walk. Getting out of the house will help distract you, and the fresh air will do you good!

8. Hang Out With Friends

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Sometimes when you're really scared the best thing you can do is be around people. Call up a friend to chat, or make plans to hang and you will feel better in no time!

Images: Pixabay, Giphy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)