By Sarah Romotsky, Director of Healthcare Partnerships at Headspace

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Halloween is set to look very different this year, with social restrictions meaning that spooky themed events are few and far between, trick-or-treating will be limited to groups of 6 or banned entirely and in general the whole celebration becoming almost a non-event.

While this may disappoint many, these restrictions could offer us a good excuse to embrace a stripped back version of Halloween, and celebrate the occasion in a more mindful way.

Sarah Rosovsky, Director of Healthcare Partnerships at Headspace shares some tips on how to make the most of Halloween this year and experience it mindfully.

Tip 1 - A mindful walk

Swap out haunted houses for a spooky fall walk this Halloween. Mindful walking is a great way to get the mind to walk with you, and to bring mindfulness to this everyday pursuit. Try meditating whilst on the move, focusing your attention on the environment around you, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells. Headspace’s mindful walking exercises can bring your attention to your body’s movement and motions and help you use this activity as a way to practise mindfulness.

When walking, focus on the autumnal yellow and oranges around you, the crisp air on your face, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot and the decorative pumpkins on doorsteps and in front windows. Bring your attention to the detail of these things, focusing on how they differ and change as you walk.

By concentrating on the surroundings, you can step away, reset, refresh, and be present in the moment, preventing your mind from wandering and experiencing stressful and unwanted thoughts.

Tip 2 - Invest in you

It’s important to set aside some time for yourself, making ‘you’ the top of your priority list this Halloween. This year has been difficult for many reasons, and as we enter the winter months, and potentially another lockdown, it is essential we prioritise our wellbeing. Why not practise self-care and do something that makes you feel good during the time when you might have been out and about, either at a Halloween party or trick or treating? Whether that is cooking your favourite meal, reading a book, or listening to music, by carving out time for yourself, you are actively choosing to invest in you.

Transfer this level of self-care into the evening and focus on getting a good night’s rest. Quality of rest and sleep is more important than the quantity, and troubled sleep is rooted in a thinking and busy mind. Through meditation we can let go of the endless commentary and worried thoughts that run through our minds, which can be especially prominent during this time of heightened stress and anxiety.

Training the mind through meditation can help you learn to be calmer, clearer and less overwhelmed, making it easier to wind down and drift off to achieve good quality sleep.

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Tip 3 - Mindful pumpkin carving

Bring mindfulness to this seasonal activity by tapping into your senses whilst creating your scary faces. When carving your pumpkin, encourage yourself to notice how it looks, smells and feels. Admire the natural bright colouring, and the different components of it. Focus on how the different textures feel, the strong distinctive smell in your nose, and smooth yet bumpy nature of the skin. When carving into the pumpkin, take note of the resistance the shell provides, the way the stringy insides are difficult to mould and the persistence of the seeds which stay inside the pumpkin.

This sensory experience is a grounding process, which keeps us invested in the act of doing, allowing us to focus our full attention on the present moment, which encourages stressful and busy thoughts to leave our minds.

Tip 4 - Pumpkin based cooking

Make use of any unused pumpkin by cooking or baking with it. Similarly to when carving, cooking can help you be present in the moment through the sensory nature of the process.

Time spent in the kitchen should be used as a moment to wind down and switch off from thoughts. Cooking Halloween inspired goodies can be the perfect relaxation aid to help you experience the event mindfully this year. The repetitive and simple tasks involved in cooking, such as mixing or chopping are very therapeutic, and encourage mindful thinking as your movements mirror your breathing, providing you an anchor to concentrate on. Try spookily decorating cakes or pumpkin pies with the same mindful manner, focussing on the precision of your hands, the colours of the icing and the shapes you create on the baked goodies as you go.

Being mindful whilst cooking additionally helps us to appreciate the process and outcome more. Cooking and baking are fundamentally about nourishing ourselves, so the process of making something from scratch can be incredibly satisfying.

RELATED: Top tips for hosting a toddler friendly Halloween party in lockdown

While you may not be able to have people over this Halloween, you probably don’t want your toddler to miss out on all the fun. So, here are my top tips for making sure your little one has a good time even when it’s a small affair... to read more click HERE 

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