Have you ever been afraid? Everyone gets scared sometimes. Maybe thunder and lightning make your heart beat faster. Or maybe your mouth goes dry when your teacher announces a pop quiz, or your palms sweat when it's your turn to give your report in front of the class. Perhaps you get butterflies in your stomach when you see the bully who picks on you.
We all have fears from time to time. That's true no matter how big we are or brave we can be. Fear can even be good for you sometimes and even help you stay healthy. Fear of getting too close to a campfire may save you from a bad burn. And fear of getting a bad grade on a test might make you study more.
Being a bit on edge also can sharpen your senses and help you perform better in a recital or during a track meet. Some people even enjoy being a little scared. That's why they like to watch scary movies or go on roller-coaster rides.
What Happens When You're Scared?
Have you ever wondered why being scared makes your heart beat faster and makes you breathe quicker? The body's reaction to fear is called the "fight or flight" response. And people have had it since the beginning of time.
Here's how it works. Imagine you're a caveman or cavewoman living 100,000 years ago — and you come face to face with a hungry saber-toothed tiger. You have two choices: 1) Run for it (that's flight), or 2) pick up your club and battle the tiger (that's fight). A final choice (be eaten) doesn't seem like such a good one!
Today, you can apply fight or flight to that bully who confronts you and won't listen to reason. You have two choices: 1) Turn and walk away (flight), or 2) fight, even though you know fighting won't solve the problem.
To prepare for fight or flight, you body does a number of things automatically so it's ready for quick action or a quick escape. Your heart rate increases to pump more blood to your muscles and brain. Your lungs take in air faster to supply your body with oxygen. The pupils in your eyes get larger to see better. And your digestive and urinary systems slow down for the moment so you can concentrate on more important things.