pumpkins and sunflowers in autumnal spread

How to Survive Halloween as an Anxious Person

I love Halloween! I love the spooky stuff, the abundance of pumpkin-spiced-everything and the cold creepy nights. However, as someone who suffers with an anxiety disorder, I do know that not every Halloween activity suits people with anxiety problems. If you find this time of year nerve-wracking, or want to join in with social events but get nervous doing so, here are a few ideas of how to survive Halloween as someone with an anxiety disorder:

Horror Films

Scary films are a huge part of Halloween for some people and something that I often enjoy. However, on a bad anxiety day, they aren’t ideal, and you may well think that horror films sound like an absolute nightmare! (Pun slightly intended…)

The main thing is that you always feel like you can say no. If you don’t want to watch a scary film, just say no. Any real friends won’t mind and will probably change their plans to accommodate you.

popcorn with cinema ticket

If you feel like you can watch a scary film, there are a few things you can do to prevent extra anxiety. First, watch them at home. That way you can pause the film if you need to, you’re somewhere familiar, and you can leave some lights on too. Also, avoid particular triggers if you know you have them. For example, my anxiety is often triggered by medical scenarios, so I will often avoid films that are set in hospitals or similar. Lastly, have a quick self-check before the film starts. Are you in the right mindset to watch this film? Is there anything you need to make yourself feel more comfortable?

There are also plenty of films that are more ‘comedy spooky’, rather than full-on horror. Think ‘Hocus Pocus’! (Which I’ve never actually seen and desperately want to watch this month!)

Books

If you’re desperate to consume some Halloween-y media, but can’t stomach a horror film this year – why not try a scary book instead? The bonus of books is that you can close them and walk away very easily if you need to.

For a traditional ghost story, I would recommend The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and for a superb psychological thriller I love Misery by Stephen King.*

The Haunting of Hill HouseMisery

Horror Mazes or ‘Scare’ Events

There’s a ‘scare village’ event near where I live that I really want to go to this year, but I sometimes really struggle with live-action horror events. Every year, you will see this style of horror event or maze pop-up. For example, the ‘Fright Night’ events at Thorpe Park. I have done these type of mazes before, but I’ve also avoided them before, so hopefully my advice can help you if you want to go to one of them.

First, remember that the actors are not allowed to touch you. You are completely safe and are in a controlled environment. Keep telling yourself that the whole event is completely fake and the performers and organisers are there to keep you safe, if a little scared.

Calm vs Panic signs with blurred beach background

Secondly, remember that you can always get out if you need toI have, on two occasions, left scary themed events early and on both occasions, staff were really understanding and accommodating. You won’t be the only person leaving early and you can always say you feel sick or unwell if you don’t want to say that it’s anxiety. A few years ago, I was in a queue to enter the ‘Chamber of Horrors’ section of Madame Tussauds in London and I just felt like I couldn’t go in. They had a sign that informed you that this was your last chance to leave before entry (check for these points – there may be some times when you won’t be able to leave, and you need to know that) and I decided to leave. I told a member of staff, told my friend, and we went to get some food instead! No one minded and it meant that I could take time to calm down and try a different activity.

You are always allowed to leave. Sometimes just knowing that escape is possible will be enough to calm you down!

Halloween Parties

If you’ve been invited to a Halloween party, then there are two important things to know:

  1. I’m very jealous of you. I love Halloween parties and no one I know ever throws them any more!
  2. You don’t have to go.

Number 2 is really the important one there, of course. If you’ve been invited to a party, you don’t have to go. Now, if you know that you have a tendency to hermit because of your anxiety, and you will actually have fun with your friends if you drag yourself there, maybe it is good to do just that. However, if you’re really panicking, don’t force yourself to go to a big party that scares you. If you do go, make sure you can get home early if you need to. Drive yourself, walk, or don’t rely on a hard party-goer for a lift home.)

Now… love fancy dress so I love dressing up for Halloween, but I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and you might feel anxious about people looking at you. However, think of it this way – if everyone in the room is in costume, and you aren’t – who are people more likely to look at? If you’re not big into fancy dress but want to blend in, I’d suggest something easy and subtle like the traditional witch’s cat. Wear all black, put on some cat ears and make a tail out of black tights and scrunched up newspaper. Done! Also, this would be easy to hide during travel if you need to get public transport – just put the ears and tail in your bag until you get to the party. Similar ideas might be a witch (black dress, hat and broom) a devil (black and red clothes with devil horns and a pitchfork) or a vampire (more black clothes, pale make-up and some fake teeth.)

pumpkins and sunflowers in autumnal spread
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

And if you’re friends really want to celebrate Halloween, but none of these activities are for you, why not suggest one of these:

  • Pumpkin carving
  • Halloween-themed baking (pumpkin traybake anyone? I have to try this one!)
  • Halloween crafts (do you have any young relatives you could do crafts with? most kids I know love Halloween and they don’t do anything too scary!)
  • A board game night with a spooky twist. (I’d recommend Plague Inc. which is a brilliant plague-themed game. You could also play Cluedo for some old-school murder mystery feels!)

And last, but by no means least, keep up your self-care. Perhaps by trying out the #SelfCareTogether challenge that Pigletish is hosting this month. Halloween is a very social holiday and you might be surrounded by triggers for your anxiety for a lot of this month – so make sure you are taking care of yourself, and having moments of calm whenever you can.

Happy Halloween!

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* Please note that Book Depository links in the post are affiliate links. They cost you no extra money, but if you buy a book through my affiliate links I earn a small commission.

#SelfCareTogether – A Self-Care Challenge for October

It should come as no surprise that someone with blog title ‘Self-Care Sloth’ thinks that self-care is important.

Of course I think self-care is important! Taking care of ourselves is one of the most crucial things that we can do to keep ourselves healthy and happy. If we don’t take care of ourselves, then who will?

Thankfully, there are hundreds of other bloggers and wonderful people out there who also take self-care seriously and one of those is the lovely Anneli at Pigletish.com, who has created the #SelfCareTogether October Self-Care Challenge.

There are loads of different ways to practice self-care, be they indulgent and only for the odd occasion, or low-energy and everyday activities. What Anneli has done is collect 31 of these activities together and created a plan for October that encompasses four different aspects of self-care. Isn’t that such a great idea?

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I am definitely going to be taking part in this challenge and I will share most of my thoughts over on my Twitter @ASelfCareSloth, but today I thought I’d start off with some thoughts here on my blog.

My Self-Care Plan for Week One: Self-Care Basics.

01: Go outside.

On day one, I will make an effort to get outside, for more than just the walk to my car in the morning! This was one of the only benefits of my old office job, actually. Every lunch time, I used to go out for a walk and get some fresh air. Now that I’m at a school, it is expected that I’ll be on-site for most of lunchtime, so I don’t get this same opportunity. I am glad that this challenge will give me a push to get outside on Monday after work, even just for a walk round the block. My aim is 20 minutes of fresh air.

autumnal leaves

02: Eat Something Nutritious.

A big one for me at the moment. My relationship with food isn’t great and I often make the wrong choices, even though I know that healthy and nutritious food makes me feel much better. On Tuesday, I am going to make a nutritious and healthy dinner, including lots of colourful veg!

03: Venture Further Out

I’ll admit, I’m not totally sure I know what this one means. But I’m going to take it to mean venturing out of my comfort zone – because that is always a good thing to do, and I don’t necessarily need to venture further out of the house. There’s always a way to push my comfort zone a bit further when I’m teaching, and my comfort zone is pretty small, so I’m sure I’ll find a way to venture a bit further on day three.

04: Shower/Bath

This is such a key self-care topic, I’m really glad that it’s been included in this list. Sometimes, just having a shower or a long soak is what both your body and mind need. I’ll have been to the gym on the fourth, so a long hot shower will be needed! But I’ll level it up a bit this week by using a hair mask, properly cleansing my face, and really putting the effort into this regime.

relaxing shower head with water

05: Life Admin

How often do we all get behind on this?! If you’re anything like me, this is an ongoing to-do list that always gets forgotten – so day five will be my life admin day. My priorities will be finally filing some very important paperwork and going through my finances.

06: Social Media Cleanse

My aim is to cleanse my social media by unfollowing anyone who I don’t actively want to follow or who doesn’t bring positivity to my feeds. We’re all guilty of following someone on Twitter once and then never really reading their tweets again, or following that Victoria’s Secrete model lookalike on Instagram whose account really only serves to make you feel bad. Day six – cleanse my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds of all those people! This is a great idea and one that will hopefully have long-term benefits to my mental health when I’m online.

And last but not least…

07: Focus on Drinking Enough Water

Every day, I carry round with me a large, 1 litre water bottle. My aim was always to drink at least two of these bottles a day, meaning I drink at least 2 litres of water a day. Sometimes this happens, but honestly it is a habit that has really slipped in recent weeks. I’m really disappointed with myself that I’ve let this habit drop and I need to get back on top of it! So, on day seven I will be aiming to drink at least 2 litres of water and I will make sure that I document it on my Twitter!

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Thanks again to Anneli for putting this challenge together. I think this will really give me and lots of other people a push to prioritise self-care in October.

Are you taking part? Let me know below if you are, and leave your social media handles so I can follow your progress. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SelfCareTogether as well!

Happy October…

The Self-Care Sloth