Mental Health And Halloween

Mental Health And Halloween

Halloween is the time for all things spooky and scary. Where people dress up and have a good time. But for some people, mental health and Halloween don’t always go together. So what can you do to still enjoy this spooky time of year? Well, read this post and find out.

 

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Mental Health And Halloween: Anxiety

 

If you suffer from anxiety, there are a few things you could do to ease your anxious feelings. Plus, have a little Halloween related fun as well.

 

Answering The Door

If answering the door to trick or treaters will increase your anxiety, then simply don’t do it. There’s no law saying you have to, so if you don’t feel up to it then don’t do it. Your mental wellbeing is by far the most important thing.

 

You’re not obligated to give out sweets or answer the door. But if you feel like you’d still like to give some sweets out without answering the door, then you could try putting a bowl out with some sweets in instead.

 

Identifying Triggers

If you want to try and push yourself a little this Halloween, then you could take some time to work out what your triggers are for this seasonal holiday. Once you’ve done that, you can then create a list of how you could manage these triggers. But remember, you’re in control, and only do what you’re comfortable doing.

 

Mental Health And Halloween

 

Dinner Party

Alternatively, if you want to celebrate Halloween but don’t want to go out, you could do a themed dinner party instead. Then invite a few friends and family over to enjoy it with you. It could be a lot of fun creating a Halloween themed food and drinks menu for the dinner party.

 

Movie Night

If a dinner party is too much hassle, you could do a horror movie night and invite friends and family over. You could literally binge watch the Halloween movie franchise on Halloween. You could even just enjoy this on your own. Nothing wrong with binge-watching some horror movies on your own, at least you get to eat all the sweets yourself.

 

Get Creative

You could use Halloween as an excuse to get creative and make your own decorations to get into the spirit of the holiday.

 

Seek Support From Others

If you need some company to go out and enjoy Halloween, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family. You could also try meeting up with like mind people to enjoy the seasonal holiday through Mental Health support groups run by your local mental health charity, or even from like-minded Facebook groups.

 

Seek Therapy

Seek professional support to help work through your mental health problems. But if you’re finding it hard to get into therapy, you could also try some online courses or talk to someone at one of the various support services I’ve listed on my Global Crisis Lines And Support page.

 

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Mental Health And Halloween: Trauma

 

Unfortunately, some people who have suffered trauma (PTSD) can also find Halloween difficult to enjoy. A lot of Halloween costumes involve fake scars, open wounds, stitches, weapons, and the like. For those among us who have lived through war, have experienced violent crime, or abuse, Halloween can be a trigger to their traumas.

 

What might seem like good old harmless Halloween fun, can in fact, trigger some people’s trauma induced fight or flight response.

 

Dress Code Halloween Party

You could arrange a Halloween party but put the triggering items on a no go dress code list. Not every awesome Halloween costume has to involve looking like the film Hostel.

 

Dress Code Dinner Party

Much like the no go dress code for a Halloween party, you could do the same for a dinner party as well.

 

Mental Health And Halloween

 

Film Night

You could also arrange a movie night for Halloween, but instead of the normal scary and gory films, you could try watching ones that aren’t violent. This would still allow you to enjoy the Halloween seasonal spirit.

 

For example:

Hocus Pocus

The Addams Family

Beetlejuice

Dark Shadows

Ghostbusters

Hotel Transylvania

 

Mindfulness

Unfortunately, you not all situations where there might be trauma-inducing triggers are going to be avoidable over the Halloween period. The streets and shops are going to have their Halloween displays up for at least a month.

 

What can you do to better manage this? Well, there’s a couple of things you could do. Much like those suffering from anxiety, you could take time to identify your triggers and work out a way to better manage them. You could also look into using some mindfulness techniques, such as using breathing exercises or grounding.

 

An example of a grounding technique – Feel Your Feet

This is a pretty quick and easy technique that can be done anywhere at any time. Whether sitting or standing, all you need to do is place all of your awareness on the bottom of your feet. Then Pay attention to any sensations. That’s it. Just do that for about 30-60 seconds, or however long you need to ground you in the present.

 

If this method doesn’t work for you then there are plenty of others out there you could try, just use a search engine to look up ‘grounding techniques‘.

 

Don’t Self-Medicate

It is tempting to use alcohol and drugs to get avoid dealing with your trauma during such seasonal holidays as Halloween. However, whatever fleeting temporary relief you get from doing this will only make your mental health worth in the long run.

 

Mental Health And Halloween

 

I use to self medicate to manage my anxiety disorders to stop myself having constant psychotic episodes whenever I left the house. But for a decade my anxiety disorders didn’t improve, not until I decided to take a different approach. Changing my mindset to managing my anxiety disorders with long term recovery being the aim, over short term comfort.

 

I used a combination of graded exposure and metacognitive therapy to achieve this. Instead of challenging my intrusive thoughts that would trigger a psychotic episode, I would leave them unchallenged and let them run their course.

 

Whenever I challenged them before, it would just make my anxiety and psychotic episodes worse. So now I was leaving them be, and after a while, the thoughts become less and less powerful.

 

This coupled with using graded exposure, whereby I’d go out to places with my partner, enabled me to go out without self-medicating. But most importantly, it drastically reduced the frequency of my psychotic episodes, which were almost 24/7 before. 

 

It wasn’t pleasant to do at the start, let me tell you, but the difference in my quality of life, before and after doing this, is so massively different, it’s like comparing Usain Bolt with a snail, running a 100 meters.

 

Seek Therapy

Again, seek professional support to help work through your mental health problems. But if you’re finding it hard to get into therapy, you could also try some online courses or talk to someone at one of the various support services I’ve listed on my Global Crisis Lines And Support page.

 

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Mental Health And Halloween: Depression

 

Depression can be the hardest to overcome due to the sheer lack of motivation to do even the simplest of tasks. However, if you can find a way to motivate yourself, then hopefully these suggestions might help you get into the spirit of Halloween.

 

Decorations

I don’t know about you, but I love shopping during the run-up to Halloween. I’ve bought 2 crockery sets that have skulls on them, which I’ll be using all year round, all thanks to Halloween. I’ve also bought a lot of tea towels, mugs, glasses, etc. I love home decor shopping at Halloween.

 

Why not try getting into the Halloween spirit the same way, and go check out the Halloween decorations, and maybe even pick up a few things. You could also get your craft game on and make some or all of you Halloween decorations.

 

halloween

 

Meeting Up

If your friends aren’t free or you’re alone for whatever reason, then you could join a platform like Meetup and arrange to meet people through that to celebrate this spooky time of year.

 

I know how hard it is to put yourself out there, but the benefits of doing so can make a huge difference. You could also reach out on Facebook groups in your area.

 

Costumes

Don’t be afraid to get dressed up. I love the idea of dressing up, but I also have a lot of hesitation due to my own insecurities. Don’t be like me, who cares if it might be embarrassing, that’s part of the fun of Halloween. Embrace the kid inside you.

 

Mental Health And Halloween

 

My Mental Health And Halloween

 

I love Halloween, but my mental health tries to stop me from enjoying it. I love the idea of dressing up, I love the decorations, it’s my kind of holiday for my black and horror-loving heart.

 

However, when it comes to Halloween, my anxiety disorders, crippling self-doubt, low self-esteem, and my borderline personality disorder, all stop me from truly enjoying Halloween.

 

Dressing up for Halloween causes me several problems, especially if the Halloween celebration isn’t actually on Halloween itself. My anxiety disorders get triggered by people looking at me, so if I’m in an eyecatching costume then I’m going to potentially have a lot of people looking at me, which will then trigger a psychotic episode.

 

Then there’s the fear of being laughed at if I’m the only one in a costume on public transport, which, in my mind, will draw the attention of people who will then laugh at me.

 

halloween

 

Also, when it comes to costumes, then the outfit not being good enough can also be a problem for me. Again, because people might laugh at me for how pathetic it is, but also because it’ll grate at me for not putting in enough effort. There’s a part of me that wants stuff to be perfect and if it can’t be, then I shouldn’t try at all. An all or nothing approach that has been with me all my life. Although it’s not as strong as it was when I was a child.

 

I wish I could overcome that side of me. It doesn’t just affect my ability to truly enjoy Halloween the way I’d like, it also affects me in my day-to-day life as well. I haven’t dressed the way I’d really like to, to express myself, due to the anxiety it’d cause. Even the smallest change to my usual look is really hard for me to do.

 

My partner, on the other hand, loves making an effort and dressing up for Halloween. The last time we celebrated Halloween we both dressed up. It’s hard to say no to my partner when it comes to stuff like that, which is annoying at the time, but a good thing in the long run. If you’ve read some of my earlier blog work, you’d understand. I lack the drive and motivation to do anything, even meeting my partner (The Difficulties Of Meeting My Partner and Partner Wants To Meet A Week Early).

 

As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of how your mental health and Halloween work together in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up to my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new posts by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom left corner.

 

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19 thoughts on “Mental Health And Halloween

  1. Very good points here. I hate answering the door, but dont mind as much once I’ve established that it’s the neighbour kids. It’s easier nowadays that we love in a good area, before it was awful. We lived in a bad area and you never knew who you were answering the door to.

  2. I’ve never actually considered how Hallowe’en might be a trigger for anxiety before. Such an enlightening post with some really great suggestions.Thank you for sharing!

  3. Such an insightful post, and I hadn’t considered a lot of these scenarios before. Halloween kind of goes by unnoticed where I live and there aren’t many kids in the area so we don’t get trick or treaters usually. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! x

    Sophie

  4. This was such a thoughtful post! I feel kind of silly for not connecting the gory Halloween costumes with PTSD, but that makes so much sense. I love the alternatives you provided for Halloween night. I personally love answering the door to trick or treaters, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more self-conscious (low self-esteem!) and I don’t think I can wear a costume. I’d be too awkward. But I think a nice, Halloween dinner party maybe with a fun Halloween movie at the end for people who don’t like scary (which I love, but I won’t force anyone else to watch them) sounds like a lovely, anxiety-free Halloween night to me! Thanks for providing so much info and some alternative methods for people who may be suffering with their mental health this time of year. Halloween should be fun, not stressful. You just have to find what works for you and your mental health. 🙂

    Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

  5. As someone who has mental health problems, especially with anxiety, depression and bpd, I can totally relate to how you feel. You also make some really good points that make me feel much more comfortable with Halloween coming up as it’s always an evening if I’ve been afraid of. Great post.

  6. Something I remember when going trick-or-treating was seeing some houses with just a bowl of candy out rather than us having to ring the doorbell – I didn’t piece the two together that it may be due to anxiety that the person opted to leave the bowl of candy outside rather than having to open the door to distribute candy to trick-or-treaters. It’s really important to know that you’re in control and only do what you find comfortable doing.

    I haven’t though of the trauma aspect of halloween with regards to fake scars, stitches and fake blood and could trigger someone’s with for flight response.

    Dressing up is super fun and a great way to get creative with decorations, thank you very much for writing this post, definitely gave me a lot to think about as Halloween comes closer.

  7. This is a very thoughtful post. Each year I take the family trunk or treating at a local church. The gory costumes are few and far between, which helps me a lot. Before I had kids, I’d ignore the door and just watch a movie.

  8. Mindfulness is my go to! I never thought about the impact of Halloween on mental health before.

    Great post 🙂

    -aimlief

  9. This is a very good post because I have never ever thought that someone can have also a negative Halloween expierence! But you are saying true. Unfortunately I am not celebrating Halloween because in Berlin it’s not a BIG celebration like in other countries, but while reading, I understand one thing – as I am afraiding from spiders, every shopping time can really be not the nicest for me! Every time seeing ”spider” on sweets, hats, advertisments… I am freaking out. But thats I think, is the only thing!

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