Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the name given to the fear of Friday the 13th. As our culture has continued a long time superstition regarding the number 13 and the belief that Friday the 13th is a very unlucky day, many find themselves stressed regarding this date. 2012 will have three occurrences of this day, starting this month with Friday, January 13th. April and July will also see a Friday the 13th.
While the date bothers many, there’s very little evidence that more bad things happen on Friday the 13th. In fact, some studies have found that fewer bad things occur on Friday the 13th verses any other Fridays of the year. Fewer fires and thefts, fewer accidents, and fewer driving incidents are reported on Friday the 13th.
Perhaps these statistics are due to the fact that many are so stressed by the date that they stay home. Studies also have found that many stay home from work, avoid flying, or eating out at restaurants. It’s also been estimated that $800-900 million is lost in American business due to people staying in and avoiding business as usual.
While the facts may chalk all the hype up to pure superstition, the facts clearly point out that people are truly impacted by this date. Fear and stress are manipulating the public’s choices on Friday the 13th. Those reactions can be harmful to one’s health. When a person is stressed the body is designed to react. When one is stressed for long period of times, very detrimental things can occur.
Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone” because it is secreted in the body’s response to stress. The list of reactions cortisol can cause is lengthy. Impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, decreased bone density, decrease in muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and increased abdominal fat are serious issues that can be associated with cortisol levels.
Knowing that the stress hormone is so dangerous it’s important to find effective ways to reduce stress. Brooke Randolph, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, deals closely with clients who are afflicted with anxiety and stressors and explained some techniques she recommends.
“Friday the 13th is not a stressor that can be avoided. To manage the stressor and stay healthy, it is important to try to avoid the adrenaline response as much as possible. Techniques can include deep breaths, self-distraction, and enlisting a friend to keep you company. Phobias generally do not respond well to cognitive therapies, but some people may find positive mantras or journaling to be helpful.”
While Friday the 13th may just trigger the need for a horror movie marathon for most people, it’s clear that many are truly upset by the date. The impact of such stress is potentially so dangerous to one’s health that it’s essential coping techniques are practiced and perfected, especially in a year that has three opportunities for friggatriskaidekaphobia to strike.