Top 5 Halloween Costumes for the Socially Anxious

11 Ways to Face Eating Disorder Fears This Halloween

Top 5 Halloween Costumes for the Socially Anxious

Halloween brings unique — and sometimes scary — challenges for people living with eating disorders.

Those with eating disorders characterized by restriction, such as anorexia nervosa or avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, may be afraid to eat certain foods, says certified eating disorder specialist Lara Effland, a licensed independent clinical social worker and regional managing clinical director of the Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center in Bellevue, Washington.

And for people with a disorder characterized by binge eating behaviors, such as binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa, Halloween may spark worries of losing control around candy and other festive foods, Effland adds.

Even though the challenges can differ for each person, there are tried-and-true strategies that can keep your eating disorder fears in check before, during, and after this spooky holiday.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Manage Eating Disorder Triggers Outside the Treatment Center

1. Remind Yourself of What’s Most Important to You

According to Effland, pausing to consider what really matters to you today and tomorrow — the present and immediate future — rather than worrying about the past or distant future can help you manage any urges to binge eat, to purge or rid the body of food, or to unnecessarily restrict or avoid certain food groups or ingredients. To start, Effland suggests asking yourself:

  • Why do you want to maintain your recovery today?
  • Why do you want to avoid turning to eating disordered behaviors today?

Practicing focusing on your personal values ahead of Halloween can help you when the holiday arrives, she adds.

2. Plan to Enjoy Other Treats That’ll Make the Day Special

If you’re worried about acting on eating disordered behaviors on Halloween, Kristen Farrell Turner, PhD, a psychologist at Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, recommends having a plan to combat boredom and other negative feelings that could surface on Halloween.

“Boredom is a stressful condition,” Farrell Turner explains. She suggests writing down a list of activities you can turn to instead of eating disordered behaviors and keeping this list somewhere you can see it. She also recommends limiting your list to three to five self-soothing activities to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Breathing or meditation exercises; visualizing yourself in a happy, safe space; reading a book or magazine; and taking a short walk may all be helpful activities to add to your list, Farrell Turner says.

3. Less Can Be More, So Set Some Limits

“Set some limitations that are, most importantly, in the best interest of your [physical] health, your mental health, and having a good holiday,” Effland recommends. Listening to your intuition, which often results in boundary setting, is a great place to start.

Limits to consider when living with an eating disorder may include how long you think you can participate in an activity — whether it’s trick-or-treating, going to a party, or staying home and handing out candy — and how much candy and other festive treats you’re comfortable having in your house, if at all.

Effland also suggests setting a time limit on activities. “Know when the Halloween activities are over and stay within a window of time that you feel you are capable of managing rather than pushing it to a place where you can no longer cope,” she advises.

4. Don’t Try to Go It Alone

Let friends and loved ones know if you’re struggling, says Effland. In fact, keeping your eating disorder a secret can give the disorder power over you. “When we try to go it alone or suppress it, that’s when it backfires,” says Effland.

She suggests letting at least one loved one know that you’re struggling and asking them for support. Ways to do this can include making plans to go Halloween costume shopping together, sharing a meal before any Halloween events begin, or simply asking them to sit and listen to you without judgment.

5. Keep Your Hands Busy

According to Turner, keeping your hands occupied is another way to avoid unwanted behaviors at Halloween-themed events, especially if you are concerned about binge eating.

“Carrying around a bottle of water or something in your hand is usually a great strategy that makes it less ly someone will just grab stuff [ candy or alcohol],” says Farrell Turner. Staying focused on something in your hands may also help you stay grounded in the present moment, she adds.

Other items you can use to keep your hands busy are stress balls, fidget spinners, or your cell phone. If you’d prefer a more discreet option, consider trying a fashionable ring with a built-in spinner or a spiky sensory ring.

6. Consider Working With a Mental Health Professional

If you’d to try exposure therapy, in which you face your food-related fears head-on, consider seeking professional help to guide the process.

“This person can give you the space to talk about the thoughts going through your mind,” Farrell Turner explains. “Then they’ll offer other techniques to help you deal with those kinds of thoughts.”

For example, this supportive person can give you reminders to breathe when you’re experiencing difficult emotions anxiety.

RELATED: Best Online Therapy Programs of 2021

7. Remember How Far You’ve Already Come

Sometimes triggers still happen, even when we do our best to prepare, Effland says.

When you’re feeling triggered or challenged, she suggests thinking about how you want to feel tomorrow — in recovery communities, this is often referred to as “playing it forward.” Then ask yourself what actions or decisions you can make right now to make sure you achieve that goal and avoid eating disordered behaviors, says Effland.

“Recall other times you successfully got through a difficult situation and did not use your behaviors,” and trust that you can do that again now, suggests Effland.

8. Use Visualization to Your Advantage

Although learning to stay focused on the present is an important skill in recovery, spending some energy thinking about the future can be constructive, too.

Ahead of Halloween, Farrell Turner suggests imagining going trick-or-treating, walking into a party, or handing out candy. “It’s Halloween, so there's ly to be a bowl of candy somewhere, and somebody is probably going to offer you something a drink or snack food,” Turner says.

She recommends picturing what may happen and what coping strategies you could use in those scenarios, such as “playing it forward.”

9. Switch Up Where (or How) You Grocery Shop

People with eating disorders may find grocery shopping amid Halloween candy displays difficult. For some, this can be particularly challenging after Halloween, when candy goes on sale.

Turner advises temporarily buying groceries elsewhere or opting for online grocery shopping. Although online shopping won’t alleviate every trigger you might face, it may make you less ly to encounter overly tempting foods or beverages, says Turner.

If you have to buy groceries in person, consider temporarily shopping at smaller chains or grocery stores geared toward organic, whole foods. Turner says these stores may also have Halloween treats on sale, but those displays are typically less front and center.

10. Go for a Body-Neutral Costume

Choosing a Halloween costume and anticipating wearing it on Halloween can be stressful if you struggle with body image issues.

Stresses associated with Halloween costumes may include wanting to dress as a particular character whose body type looks different from yours or feeling pressured to wear a revealing costume. And for some people, thinking about how their body will look in a costume may contribute to eating disordered behaviors or interfere with other daily activities.

Choosing a body-neutral costume by dressing up as a funny object, such as a jack-o’-lantern, is one way to skirt these pressures, says Effland. She also suggests dressing up as someone you know, such as a neighbor or friend.

11. Practice Self-Compassion and Kindness

If things don’t go exactly as planned on Halloween, remind yourself of your previous successes in recovery and keep moving forward. Practice self-compassion even if you slip. And remember: Recovery from eating disordered behaviors doesn’t happen overnight. What happens on one holiday is less important than the fact that you’re actively aiming to recover in the long term, Effland says.

“The beauty of recovery,” she adds, “is that every day's a new day.”


15 Costumes of Characters People With Anxiety and Depression Connect With

Top 5 Halloween Costumes for the Socially Anxious

Halloween is right around the corner, so it’s time to start thinking of costume ideas. If you are wondering what to dress up as — and feel putting a relatable, mental health spin on your costume — look no further.

We asked members of our Mighty community who live with anxiety and depression to share what fictional characters they find relatable, and put together a costume guide with their favorite characters (and some of our own) in mind.

We know Halloween can be an expensive time, so for those of you who are on a tight budget, have no fear! In addition to costumes you can buy, we’ve included some DIY costume/makeup tutorial videos so you can either get crafty or complete your look with thrift store finds or things you already have at home.

1. Wonder Woman

“I nearly cried when I watched ‘Wonder Woman’ in theaters… That is how it feels in my body when I am brave. I am taking control of a force that should be much stronger than I am, but it is not.

Not when I do not let it be. It is hard to be brave, especially when my greatest enemy is the one that lives in my head, but it is worth it. I can be Wonder Woman. I believe anyone can be Wonder Woman.

” — Bridget S.

Our picks: –> ($48) and –> ($15)

2. Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh”

“It feels there’s a constant rain cloud following me it follows Eeyore sometimes. Eeyore also just kinda goes with the flow/doesn’t care which a lot how I am. Eeyore also has a lot of friends and around him but still seems to feel alone which is very similar to how I often feel.” — Jenna L.

Our picks: Eeyore Onesie ($30) and Eeyore Ear and Tail Set ($12)

3. Buffy from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

“Buffy the Vampire slayer… I know it may sound strange but because her parents were divorced (so were mine) and she had to be there for her mom and because even though she was a part of the crowd she also stood apart from it and had to cope with monsters other people did not believe existed. Also she had to become independent and resourceful because people were depending on her.” — Candace R.

Our picks: Vampire Slayer Cross Pendant ($10) and Buffy’s Wooden Stake ($19)

4. Bojack from “Bojack Horseman”

“Bojack Horseman” fans can celebrate because it has been brought back for a fifth season. If you want to dress up as Bojack, check out Carbon Costume’s guide for making the costume yourself.

via Carbon Costume website

Our pick: Horse Head Mask ($12) 

5. Frankenstein’s Monster from “Frankenstein”

“My favorite novel is ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley and it’s because [I relate] to Frankenstein’s monster.

People tend to take that the wrong way, I don’t think I’m a monster, but when you realize how excluded from life he felt, watching everyone around him ‘living’ and having no idea how that felt or how to even get there — it’s [] watching these people [who] are the same as you, yet so different and having no idea how to fill that gap. The feeling of never being good enough, always misunderstood, only ever wanting to love, be loved, be included and be yourself, but having no idea where to begin.” — Emma Q.

Our picks: Frankenstein’s Monster Hair and Bolts ($17) and Green Costume Makeup ($5)

6. Sadness from “Inside Out”

A beloved character from the movie “Inside Out,” Sadness is a great (and easy) costume idea. In addition to a wig, some blue face paint and fake glasses, all you really need is a bulky turtleneck sweater!

Our picks: –> ($10),  –> ($2) and –> ($8).

7. Harley Quinn from “Suicide Squad”

“Give me Harley Quinn from ‘Suicide Squad.’ She went ‘crazy’ for the man she loves, but for me it’s more about her spirit. She fights for everything she has and for the love of the Joker. She’s unapologetically herself at all times and doesn’t make any excuses for anything. You either love her or you don’t. She’s my spirit woman.” — Doni P.

Our picks: Harley Quinn Costume ($35), Wig ($22) and Colored Hair Spray ($8)

8. Squidward from “SpongeBob SquarePants”

“Honestly I relate to Squidward [from] ‘SpongeBob.’ He’s me because I don’t want to be bothered, and I don’t being around people. I just being alone and with myself. I’m not crabby, but I don’t talking. I prefer to be the outsider.” — Victoria F.

via Kristina Halford’s Pinterest

Pinterest user Kristina Halford made this costume for her daughter and shared how she made it: “Beanie, gloves and sweatshirt from Walmart. Pants from Target. Already had brown shirt. Eyes made from old yellow shirt, sewn on. Pieces of glove underneath to raise them. The rest is sharpie.”

Our picks: Squidward Costume ($28) or Squidward Face Shirt ($13)

9. Harry Potter from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

“Harry Potter. The way he reacts to the Dementors, more extreme than those around him, not only correlates to my depression, but also the extremeness of my emotions. But his desire to fight their effects at all costs correlates to my desire to fight my depression and other illnesses, mental and physical.” — Tina A.

Our picks: Harry Potter Costume ($33) and Harry Potter Glasses and Tie ($12)

10. Piglet from “Winnie the Pooh”

“Piglet! He’s so frantic about everything, and everyone around him loves him no matter what he does. His friends soothe him and help him, and everything works out in the end.” — Kimberly E.

Our picks: Piglet Onesie ($19) and Piglet Ears ($9) 

11. Daria Morgendorffer from “Daria”

“She saw through the bullsh*t most adults couldn’t. She was ahead of everyone even her own parents. However, being the most aware and smart person in the room is a lonely place. She helped me know that my sarcasm and negativity was OK.” — Jennifer D.

Our picks: Daria Costume ($60), Daria wig ($12) and Blazer ($30)

12. Frodo Baggins from “Lord of the Rings”

“He has to carry a very heavy burden and face the challenges that come with it. Despite this, Frodo just keeps going and he has to place his trust in others in order to succeed — something I really struggle with.

 Luckily, he has Sam with him every step of the way. I identify with this as well. My husband’s name is Sam and he really is the Samwise to my Frodo.

He helps me carry my anxiety and doesn’t abandon me on a cliff when he thinks I’ve eaten all the Lembas bread.” — Ellen G.

Our picks: Dark Brown Cloak ($21) and Pointed Ears ($9)

13. Fear from “Inside Out”

“He’s disproportionally panicked about everything and always assumes the worst. I relate to his unintentionally spastic demeanor. Fear is meant to be protective. But for people with clinical anxiety, life feels frantic as though Fear perpetually takes control of the whole brain.” — Lisa M.

Our picks: Purple Wig ($20) and Purple Face Paint ($9) 

14. Megara from “Hercules”

“Sarcasm is her main language, she procrastinates, she has just one best friend, nobody understands her and she has a cynical world view. I relate to her on every level.” — Megan H.

Our pick: Lilac Goddess Costume ($26)

15. Elsa from “Frozen”

“She was always petrified she’d do something wrong, and I personally interpret her running away and fighting with Anna as panic attacks. When I’m really in a bad place, I’ll braid my hair and wear a tiara around my house to remind me to ‘let it go.’” — Emily F.

Our picks: Elsa dress ($35) and wig ($19)

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Lead images via “Wonder Woman” and “Bojack Horseman” pages


Halloween tips for children with anxiety, autism and sensory challenges

Top 5 Halloween Costumes for the Socially Anxious

By Janis D. Gioia, MAEd and Elise C. Gioia

Halloween is about two weeks away.

For most kids Halloween is a pass to stay out late on a school night, hang out with friends wearing cool costumes, and eat way too much candy.

But children with anxiety, autism or sensory processing disorders experience everyday things differently.

Halloween is no exception.

Halloween involves darkness and scary images

The holiday we know as Halloween, is an ancient Celtic harvest festival that involved people donning scary costumes to keep ghosts and demons away.

For children who struggle with anxiety, the darkness, scary costumes, talk of ghosts and demons and decorations that turn neighborhood homes into graveyards is downright terrifying.

Halloween involves costumes and make-up

For children with autism and sensory processing disorders, putting on a costume with scratchy, itchy fabrics, or covering their faces with make-up or a mask is sensory overload.

Halloween disrupts school routines.

Children with autism, anxiety and sensory processing disorders struggle when routines are disrupted.

School parties change school schedules.  Classrooms are more rowdy as children’s energy and excitement builds.

Halloween parties involve different sights, sounds, smells and activities than ordinary school days.

Parent helpers are in the classroom, but to an anxious child, there are strangers in a classroom they may struggle to feel calm in on “regular” school days.

The classroom is filled with decorations, skeletons may dangle from the ceiling, twinkling orange and black lights might be strung across the room.

The sweet smells of cider and doughnuts, and cupcakes and candy, fill the air:  great for most children, but not those who have hypersomnia (a sensitivity to smells.

And then there are the games.  Most kids love being blindfolded and asked to feel zombie eyeballs (peeled grapes) and mummy guts (cold spaghetti).

Not a problem for most children…but way to much sensory overload for a child with anxiety, sensory processing issues or autism.

Halloween equals chaos at home

Even if your anxious child isn’t trick-or-treating, the night is filled with chaos:

  • Brothers and sisters are running around the house in their costumes.
  • Parents rushing to help children get costumes on while attempting to prepare dinner and get Halloween candy ready for the onslaught of trick-or-treaters.
  • Doorbells ringing.

A soothing bedtime routine probably isn’t going to happen.

And that’s stressful for your anxious, sensitive child.

Explain Halloween.  You may think kids “know” that Halloween is just costumes and makeup, but some children can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality.

Ask them how the holiday makes them feel and what things they and dis.

Your acceptance and respect of your child’s fears gives them confidence to share their anxieties with you.

Saying, ‘Halloween is filled with many scary sights and sounds.  Routines are different, things seem a little bit control.  There isn’t anything for you to be afraid of, but I understand your fears and I am here to help you make a plan to enjoy Halloween.”

Use Bibliotherapy:

Try reading some fun and not-at-all scary Halloween classics The Berenstain Bears Trick-or-Treat, Franklin’s Halloween or my daughter’s favorite The Littlest Pumpkin.

If your child is still resistant, consider writing a Halloween social story or comic strip with your child.

Developed by therapist Carol Gray to help children with autism develop social understanding, social stories allow you to write about an event that causes anxiety for your child.

Social stories are written from the child’s point of view, helping him navigate a challenging experience.  Your child can illustrate the book with his artwork or use magazine cut-out or real photos.

I used social stories extensively in my teaching, and they really helped children with anxiety and autism spectrum disorders.

Here’s a sample social story for a child who is having Halloween anxiety at home:

Design Your Child’s Happy Halloween.

Your child’s Happy Halloween may look nothing the Walmart commercial you just saw on TV.

That’s okay.  There are as many kinds of holiday celebrations as there are children.

(Keep that in mind as the holiday season approaches.)


Добавить комментарий

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: