Happy Halloween from us to you! We are as excited as you are about the good times that the fall season brings with it. From scary ghost stories and frightening good times, to great memories made with friends, there is plenty to enjoy this time of year, even if you struggle with anxiety disorders and/or other stressors and fears in your life.

If you are someone who is easily stressed or is prone to high anxiety, it may feel overwhelming to add yet another thing, like a costume party or taking your kids trick-or-treating. A helpful way to overcome the fear of social events or resistance to more obligations is to remember the things you enjoy most about the Halloween season.

Take the jack-o-lantern, for example:

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The tradition started as a way for people to deal with fears and memories and the things they do not understand about the world around them. Legend says that a man known as “Stingy Jack” managed to trick the devil one night and held him as a prisoner for some time. Jack eventually freed the devil, with the promise that the devil would not bother him for the coming year and that he would not lay claim to his soul when he died. Years later, when Jack died, he was not allowed into heaven because of his shady dealings when he was alive. The Devil, upset that Jack had played a trick on him and held him captive, decided to honor his promise and did not take Jack to Hell. He gave Jack a single coal from the pit of hell, which he placed into a carved out gourd that served as a lantern. Jack roamed the earth from that day on, a lost and wandering soul. The Irish people began to refer to him as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.” The carving of pumpkins is used to symbolize the lantern Jack carries and serves as a way to keep him away, thus protecting homes and families. So when you see jack-o-lanterns at that costume party this year, you can amaze everyone with your knowledge; it can be a nice ice-breaker story too!

Dealing With Social Stress at Halloween Events

It is common knowledge that public speaking is the number one fear for most people, even surpassing the fear of death. It is not just the speakers and hosts at Halloween parties and events who will come face-to-face with social anxieties. Simply attending functions where social interaction is unavoidable or expected can be terrifying for people with anxiety, phobias and fears. So, what can you do to lessen the social stress in your life? Here are a few practical and easy things you can incorporate this season to help make things more bearable and enjoyable:

    1. When you get invited to that costume party, trick-or-treat circuit, or other social events, RSVP immediately. Don’t compound your stress and anxiety trying to decide if you can compose yourself and attend – just RSVP and start preparing yourself for the event.
    2. Before the day or night of the event, avoid all temptation to self-medicate with alcohol or any sort of medication beyond what you normally use for your day to day activities. You don’t need to rely on these things to have fun and enjoy yourself.
    3. Focus on the positive things rather than the negative as you get ready. Block out all negative images to lessen anticipation anxiety.
    4. Ask questions to keep the focus off yourself. Ask the other guest about themselves and keep the focus on things other than yourself.
    5. Never over imbibe. Do not get drunk or lose control – it may make you feel more relaxed but it opens you up to more problems. Keep yourself in control at all times.
    6. Assume that others at the party or event are also a little nervous meeting new people – you are not alone. Remember, the more socializing you do, the easier it gets. You get better at it and it will begin to feel more natural.



Fun Facts About Halloween

Here are some fun facts about Halloween that can make you the winner of any Halloween trivia game:

  • The origination of Halloween in its earliest form was inspired by Samhain, an Irish Celtic festival held at the end of harvest season each year to mark the harvest.
  • Brooms came to be associated with witches because older women who were often accused of being witches were too poor to afford a horse so they used walking sticks – and this was later updated to be a broom to give them a way to get around.
  • Black cats became popular for Halloween and were associated with witches and bad luck because they came to be seen as the guardian and protectors of a witch’s powers.
  • Halloween marks the tragic death of the famous magician Harry Houdini, who passed away after being punched in the stomach numerous times on Halloween night.

Fun Halloween Q & A

Q: What types of drinks are common at Halloween parties?

A: The drink selection will depend on whether it is a kids or adult party. Punch and such are common at all parties, but there will likely be alcohol at an adult party.

Q: What is the most famous Halloween candy?

A: The most famous candy for this time of year is candy corn.

Q: What are some popular games to play during a Halloween party?

A: You can find game such as bobbing for apples, eating contests, costume parties, dancing, and many other fun activities at most parties.


Halloween Fun in Santa Barbara

Halloween offers a full day of fun for adults and children, especially in Santa Barbara. Here are some of the Halloween events that are planned:

About MySantaBarbaraTherapy.com: Known as The Santa Barbara Therapist, Dr. Adina McGarr-Knabke is a licensed clinical psychologist.  She provides treatment for eating disordersanxiety disordersaddictiondepression and self-injurious behaviors, as well as counseling for stress from her office located at 1187 Coast Village Rd., Suite 10P in Santa Barbara. Visit the website and Facebook page or call (818) 518-6775 for more information.

Membership and Affiliations:

International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP)

Santa Barbara County Psychological Association