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Dreadful Costumes: Manage Your Anxiety

girl zombie horror against red wallHalloween can be an exciting time of year. It is a time filled with spooky stories, costumes and haunted houses. For some, however, this time of year brings added fear, anxiety or panic, especially when choosing a Halloween costume.

Today’s blog comes to us from Kelly Dunn, MA, LPC, a Staff Therapist in The Family Institute’s Cognitive Behavior Therapies program.

Choosing a costume can be a high pressure choice whether it is for a public event like a party or for your child to wear to school. There is pressure to be original and look spooky and/or sexy while not breaking the bank. It can be marked with indecision and anxiety about how it will be perceived. Or perhaps you are crafting your own costume. This comes with its own set of worries about negative evaluation from others. If this sounds familiar, then you are not alone.

Here are three tips for managing costume anxiety.

1. Try some relaxation. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy utilizes deep breathing as a simple form of relaxation that you can use anywhere. Check in with yourself and notice if your breathing tends to be shallow or rapid — that might be a cue to take a few deep breaths!

2. Consider an alternative perspective on your worries. It is impossible for your costume to be ALL things at once. Try to aim for just one — spooky or original or inexpensive. If you are making the costume, consider all the creativity, time, effort and talent that it takes compared to purchasing one at the store.

3. Observe your timeline. Are you rushing to get things done? This can add to your anxiety or worry. Are you spending too much time making a decision, shopping for costumes or crafting one considering you will likely be wearing it for just a few hours? This lengthy time investment might be too large compared to the outcome, and contributes to extra anxiety or stress. Instead, try to make a specific plan and stick to it, considering the time and materials involved.

If you think that you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, or if you would like additional information, please call The Family Institute at 847-733-4300, ext. 668, or email us at

Kelly Dunn MA, LPC is a staff therapist on the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy team at TFI. She specializes in treating depressive and anxiety disorders.

The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health counseling for families, couples and individuals in Evanston, Chicago, Northbrook and Westchester. Learn more about our services on our website.

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