Tricks, Treats & Tips On How To Approach Halloween 2018
By Katalina Stephens
Whether you love it, loathe it, or prefer to lay low through it, Hallowe'en is here in all its grotesque glory! For many of us, this is a really fun time of year when we can get outside of ourselves, be playful with creative costume ideas, and connect with our inner kid (or the actual kids in our lives) by diving into spooky crafts and pumpkin-carving adventures. For a lot of people, though, it can be challenging to reconcile the fun, celebratory side of Hallowe'en with the potentially triggering presence of hyper-sexualized costumes, violent or gory themes, and of course the ubiquitous candy consumption.
When I was insecure in my own eating disorder recovery, I took solace in connecting with the roots of Hallowe'en and contemplating its spiritual origins. Traditionally called Samhain, a term which loosely refers to the end of the summer season, Hallowe'en comes from ancient Celtic pagan beliefs and traditions. It was the night when the metaphorical veil between the living human world and the unseen realm of the supernatural was at its thinnest – allowing all manner of spirits and unearthly creatures to walk among us. Jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips, and they lit a path to hallowed crossroads, guiding all the lost souls to a place where they could safely cross over to the next world. People dressed as witches, goblins, ghosts, and demons so that they would blend in and go unnoticed by the legions of beings that might want to play some tricks on an unsuspecting human, and households left out offerings of sweet treats to placate the passing creatures. To me, it’s fascinating to look at the origins of all these Hallowe’en traditions, and see how they have persisted despite centuries of social and political change.
I personally love Hallowe'en – not just because I love all things supernatural and fantastical, but also because it pulls focus toward a more spiritual element of the holiday: remembering and honouring the souls of those we've loved and lost, and wishing them safe passage into the unknown beyond our world. When we hit "pause" on all the clichés and trends associated with the season, it's much easier to breathe through the costumes, crowds, and candy to find something a little deeper and more meaningful.
Once you can identify your own personal Hallowe’en triggers, it will become much easier to come up with healthy self-care practices that will alleviate their effects when you encounter them, like using meditative mantras, plugging into your music, or talking to a friend.
Not everyone will feel the same way as I do, of course, and it's important to plan ahead and be mindful of your own triggers as you approach Hallowe'en 2018. Pay close attention to your self-care needs, and adjust your routine if you need to. It’s also very important that you take some time and space to reflect on the things that trigger you around Hallowe’en. Is it the overtly sexy costumes, candy and treat marketing, gore/violence, crowds, past negative experiences, fireworks, or maybe something else? Once you can identify your own personal Hallowe’en triggers, it will become much easier to come up with healthy self-care practices that will alleviate their effects when you encounter them, like using meditative mantras, plugging into your music, or talking to a friend.
Here are some additional tricks & treats to keep in mind as you walk with the ghosts and goblins this season:
- Prep a body-positive Hallowe'en playlist. It's up to you if you want to include all the spooky classics (pro tip: the Ghostbusters theme is always 100% appropriate for all occasions, year-round), but you might also consider adding in some confidence-boosting self-love jams to round out the atmosphere! And if there's a popular tune that really sets you on edge, skip it.
- Laugh it up. Don't be afraid to goof around! Plan a comedy-horror movie marathon with titles like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, and Ghostbusters, to name a few. Come up with a funny spin on a group costume with your friends, create some silly crafts, or plot a good-natured Hallowe'en prank to play on someone who loves practical jokes. Focus on the fun instead of the freaky to keep things light and positive!
- Know yourself. Hallowe'en may be a big challenge for you, no matter how you go about it. It's okay if you don't feel excited or ready to join in on the season – be kind and compassionate towards yourself and mindfully decide what you really want to do on this holiday. Staying in is absolutely okay – you could always plan a decadent self-care night to treat yourself instead! A facial still counts as a mask, right?
- Connect with the recovery community. Our fabulous allies in the wide world of eating disorder recovery and body positivity have put together some great resources to help you get all-hallowed out in your own heathy way. Check out these not-so-spooky self-care tips from Recovery Warriors, this pro-recovery guide to Hallowe’en from Eating Disorder Hope, and this personal reflection from The Mighty to start your Hallowee'n off just right. And of course, don’t forget to use LGF’s Online Peer Support chats or our other support programs to talk through your stress or anxiety.
Remember that this season, just like any other, is not explicitly out to “get” you. Everyone will enjoy Hallowe’en in their own way, and one of the healthiest mindsets we can have is to understand that nobody else’s costume choice, candy consumption, or theme party invitation is intentionally designed to upset you. And for those of us who just plain love to get into the Hallowe’en spirit, we can all try to be mindful of not putting accidental pressure on our friends to get as excited as we are. If you have a friend who just doesn’t dig Hallowe’en, try to meet them on their level and offer some support and understanding.
From all of us at Looking Glass, we wish you a fun, safe, and spook-tacular Hallowe’en!
Katalina is the Volunteer & Program Manager at the Looking Glass Foundation, and holds a degree in Psychology from Simon Fraser University. She loves live music, theatre, writing, and singing when no one is listening.