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Stress Monster Gotcha

by Dr. Kathleen Hall

Halloween is the PLAY holiday, and play is the “‘brain candy’ that dissolves stress.” Play is hardwired into our genes. The benefits of play and laughter in overcoming and preventing stress are numerous. Laughter is “internal jogging,” and studies show laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, boosts your immune function, and increases muscle flexion. Research tells us that play is linked to strong family relationships, and it helps the brain learn faster, it increases energy, and it is a key to slowing the aging process.

“Halloween creates the perfect opportunity for each of us to remember the critical nature of play in our stressful chaotic lives. Play is a biological process like sleep and is essential for our mental and physical health.”

Here are four tips for Halloween play activities :


Be creative with playful food. Make witch finger cookies, bloody Jell-O, deadly brownies, or spooky Halloween drinks. Go online to find Halloween recipe sites and play with your family and coworkers. Pack playful lunches during the month.


Dressing up is lots of fun. Be a fortuneteller by digging in your closet, go online to buy superhero digs, or get some gauze and wrap yourself up like a creepy mummy. Don’t forget your pet’s costume! Plan a playful party at home, in your neighborhood, at your place of worship, or at work.


Why not bob for apples, have contests for the scariest picture, or go online for Halloween games the family can play?   Online games sites can create lots of play and laughter.


Carving pumpkins is a ritual handed down for generations. Create family night where pumpkins are carved, stories are told, and laughter ripples through your home. You are planting playful memories your children will always remember.

“Create rituals of play for Halloween and get everyone started early in the month so the excitement builds. Don’t forget that arts and crafts help to exercise the brain, fosters creativity and togetherness – and creates playful memories for the entire family!”

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