What is samhainophobia? While people in many parts of the world enjoy Halloween, for some people it is a day of dread. If you have this phobia, it’s likely that something triggered you to fear this holiday.
While some people with samhainophobia may fear the spooky aspects of Halloween, like the masks, costumes, movies, etc., I’d like to talk about the social aspects of Halloween that could be contributing to your phobia.
Let’s consider them one-by-one.
Answering the Door
Imagine someone told you that hundreds of neighbors would be ringing your doorbell all in one night. That you’d need to make small talk with parents of little children all night, figure out what costumes the children were wearing and comment on them, possibly wear a costume yourself, and… does there need to be more?
If it were any other night of the year, you’d probably say that’s crazy. But that is what happens on Halloween in many countries around the world, and if you have unmanaged social anxiety, it can be your worst nightmare. How can you cope?
Here are some ideas:
- Don’t participate. If you’re just not feeling up to it that night, turn off your lights. If you still want to step out of your comfort zone, attend a party instead.
- Go overboard. Be the most decorated house on the street, so there will be an easy conversation starter with those who come to your door.
- Limit the time. Choose a specific time period that you will hand out candy, such as from 6 to 8. You’ll get most of the cute little kids and not be so drained.
- Wear a costume yourself. Dress up in something that becomes a conversation starter itself, or that makes you feel confident.
- Distribute door duties. Share the duty of answering the door with other family members (if you have any) to give yourself a break.
- View it as a social challenge. Practice making small talk with the parents or kids that come to your door.
- Take a gradual approach. Try to do a bit more than you did last year, to gradually face your fears.
Taking Your Kids Trick-or-Treating
The flip side of the coin is when you are the one taking your child around trick or treating. Again, try to view this as a social challenge; gradually work your way up to making small talk when it feels natural. And if your child is the anxious one, don’t force the issue. It could just be a phase that will go away on it’s own.
I know whether I am the one at the door or the one doing the trick-or-treating, I tend to always think that it’s up to me to make small talk with the other parents. But that makes no sense! Rather than worry about what you should be doing, try giving yourself a pep talk before you go and actually try to have some fun. That’s what the night should really be about.
Attending Halloween Parties
I’ve never actually been to a Halloween party myself (I know—gasp, how can that be), but I remember back when I was babysitting many years ago, my neighbors would get dressed up each year in costumes to go out to a party. I remember thinking that it must be so much fun to pretend to be someone else for the night.
I think that’s the best spirit in which to approach Halloween parties. On what other occasion can you dress like someone entirely opposite yourself and not have people making comments? It’s really the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, so I encourage you to view it that way. What’s your dream costume, and would you dare to wear it?
Increased Store Traffic
Beyond all the usual Halloween stuff, there’s also the fact that the stores tend to get really busy before this holiday. People are out buying costumes and candy. My kids like to shop at a store called “Spirit Halloween” and it’s just really busy and overwhelming.
My suggestion? Unless you need to shop at that time of year, just don’t. Get your shopping done early so you can avoid the crowds. While you should gradually work on your samhainophobia if you have it, this isn’t the ideal time to do it.
Costumes at Work
I once worked for a company where a certain group dressed up for Halloween and went on a parade through the company to share their costumes. It was actually a fun day filled with laughter, though I can imagine for some it would be anxiety-provoking.
If you are encouraged to wear costumes at work, I’d approach it the same way as wearing a costume to a party. Try out being someone else for a day. It’s a good chance to work on your alter ego.
Still feeling anxious about answering the door, taking your kids trick-or-treating, atending parties, going to busy stores, or wearing a costume to work? Just bow out for this year, make a plan to work on your samhainophobia, and try again in the future. It’s just another day, after all.