Prevention & Awareness

5 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health on Halloween

Halloween is a big holiday. It seems that as soon as it hits October, the entire internet is decked out and ready for Halloween to happen.

Everyone wants to go to haunted houses, watch scary movies, and do other fear-inducing activities leading up to the actual night of fright. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys feeling scared, so this holiday can be unsettling.

For some, it can even trigger panic attacks, induce high anxiety, and cause trauma flashbacks. But Halloween doesn’t have to harm your mental health — here are some tips on how to take care of yourself during this time!

1. Pick a fun costume (or just stay in your PJ’s)
Halloween does not have to be scary! There are plenty of costumes that are not bloody, gory, or frightening- there are also plenty that are not “sexy.” Pick something that feels comfortable to you. Some ideas are: a role model of yours, a cute animal, a character from a book/movie/show, or a funny pun! If you don’t feel like dressing up at all, that’s okay too.

You can be as cute as this dog.

2. Stay in if you don’t want to go out
If you don’t feel up to a party, don’t go! Drinking tends to be a big part of the Halloween experience, especially in college, but don’t feel pressured to partake if you don’t want to. It’s totally okay to stay in with some not-so-scary movies and candy for yourself.

All the candy!!!

3. Do fun, non-scary Halloween/Fall activities
There are so many things you can do besides scaring yourself: apple picking, carving pumpkins, baking pumpkin desserts, and making caramel apples are all great alternatives. Grab some friends and have fun doing some non-threatening activities.

Pick up a nice pumpkin, a carving kit, and a friend for some Halloween fun.

4. Be prepared to see stigmatizing costumes
We live in a world where, unfortunately, mental health stigma still exists. It sucks, but it’s true. You may see people dressed as (what they perceive to be) mental patients, “crazy” people, an escapee from the psych ward, and other offensive costumes. These can be really upsetting to those who live with mental illness. Know that you’re not alone in finding them upsetting and that people are taking action to try to make them go away.

Yeah, I am smh at these costumes too, Oprah.

5. Know your triggers and have a safety plan
Things like loud noises, scary costumes, and other creepy Halloween things can cause a panic attack or flashback. If you know that certain things on Halloween may trigger you, have a plan on how you will deal with it. If you’ll be with friends, talk with them about your triggers and what they can do to support you. It’s important to know what can calm you down so that you can stay safe this Halloween!

Now get out there (or stay in) and have a great and safe Halloween!