THE BLOG

Tackling Halloween Phobia

27/10/2014 15:11 GMT | Updated 26/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Halloween is a time for being scared, shocked and frightened. It's a time for ghosts, gore, horror films, skeletons and jack-o-laterns. There are some people who don't like Halloween and trick or treating and these people shut the curtains, turn the lights off and ignore the door. That is their choice. There are other people who sit at home terrified, filled with anxiety and panic. If you have a phobia, Halloween can be an extremely difficult time and it's even worse if you wish you could just go out and enjoy the night with your friends but instead find yourself stuck at home avoiding it all. If you make the decision to push yourself and go to a Halloween party or haunted house, there are a couple of things you can do to reduce your overwhelming anxiety.. to just the normal fun kind!

First of all, if you're going to a specific event or place, research it. Find out what kind of things you'll be exposed to. You can probably guess some of the things that might be there but it's worth checking it out so you aren't exposed to something you can't cope with. Typical features include blood, skeletons, scary dolls, zombies, 'wax' people, a sense of claustrophobia and being trapped, the dark, jack-o-lanterns, cemeteries, insane asylums and scary music. If you know what is there, you can prepare yourself for it as much as you need to. Here are some ideas you can try:

If you have a fear of jack-o-lanterns or pumpkins, first practice looking at pictures. Then carve your own pumpkin but carve it with a positive, happy face. When you feel okay with this pumpkin, carve a scarier one and first have it in your house in the day time. When you feel more comfortable with the jack-o-lantern in the sunlight, light it in the evening and practice looking at it from the comfort of your own home.

If you have a phobia of germs and bodily fluids, taking antibacterial wipes or a gel could help you cope for the one night. Not only will you feel cleaner but rubbing your hands together is a soothing sensory activity that can help reduce anxiety.

If you're concerned about the music they will be playing, as with the pumpkins, start by listening to it in the daytime in sunlight. Listen to a short length such as ten seconds and slowly increase it. When you feel more relaxed, practice listening to it in the evening with the lights on but the curtains open, and then practice listening in the dark, remembering that it is the same music you were listening to earlier.

If you have claustrophobia and are worried about feeling trapped or scared in the dark. Remember, at any point, you can leave. If it's a haunted house, there will be staff all around whether they're assistants or part of the set. They aren't chainsaw-wielding 'serial killers' the rest of the year and they will be more than happy to help you. Go with a friend or family member who is aware of your anxieties and can help calm you down whilst helping you leave.

Whatever your fear, the main strategy is to expose yourself slowly in small steps and to research the evening thoroughly beforehand. You are allowed to be scared on Halloween, there is nothing wrong with fear because that's what most people are aiming for. However, there is a difference between that level of fear and having a panic attack so look after yourself and stick to what you can cope with. If you can't cope with Halloween, don't be embarrassed to speak to a qualified therapist or you can always snuggle up at home in front of the TV with a comedy, family or romance film and chocolate. Most importantly, have a good night.