10 Things to Do for Scary Season

By J Selke |

It’s October, which calls for cooler weather, longer nights, and seasonal foods. But with all the fun that spooky season can be, this time of the quarter can be busy and stressful. As such, here are ten things you can do for the spooky season to reduce stress, build community, and get in the festive spirit.  

1. Go to the Botanical Gardens

When the semester picks up, stress can be inevitable. Walking through the Botanical Gardens on the UCR campus can be a fantastic (and free) opportunity to destress. The Gardens are located on 40 acres, with 3,500 plant species, many of which are from Mediterranean and arid climates. One of my favorite places to visit is the Rose Gardens, which are currently in bloom through December. October is also a great time to visit the Butterfly Garden in the Botanical Gardens, as the Monarch Butterfly migrates to Southern California from October through March. More information about what’s in bloom can be found here

2. Destress with a DIY pumpkin face mask

It’s the season of the pumpkin! Going into stores with fresh and canned pumpkins are everywhere. And, while pumpkin carving and making pumpkin pies can be fun, pumpkins can also be used to help destress. Mix pumpkin with egg, honey, and apple cider vinegar to make a face and neck mask, or try a vegan-friendly pumpkin scrub with coffee grounds, brown sugar, and coconut oil. These recipes for face masks often make more than one person can use, so try this with a friend.

3. Read horror short stories and books 

While the busy fall quarter can take away much of your time, try reading something short and eerie. Enjoy spine-chilling short stories like Stephen King’s Children of the Corn and The Boogeyman. Both of these short stories have new film adaptations as well. Want a slower burn that’s turned into an American classic? Try The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs or The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (who also wrote The Haunting of Hill House).


[Image Description: Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World frightened and running away.]

Pictured:Pictured: Maybe read with a friend?

4. Go on a ghost tour (fun fact about Mission Inn)

As Halloween approaches, explore Downtown Riverside! Did you know some people believe the Mission Inn is haunted by the founder’s son and daughter? There have also been reports of shadowy spirits hanging on the trails of Mt. Rubidoux late at night. Interested in finding a haunted object or something spooky to buy for Halloween? Visit the Mission Galleria Antique Shop

5. Watching movies that benefit the spooky season

While scary short stories might not be your thing, the spooky season can also bring some great movies to watch, cult classics, and family-friendly movies that still bring laughs. Interested in an animated classic? Try “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” or “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” How about a Disney throwback? Enjoy “Halloweentown” or “Hocus Pocus.” Something more dark and campy? Try some of my favorite Halloween movies like “Death Becomes Her,” “Beetlejuice,” or “The Addams Family.”



[Image Description: Charlie Brown in a pumpkin field holding a sign that says “Welcome Great Pumpkin.”]

Pictured: Googling “How to Charlie Brown.”

6. Make your own apple cider with five ingredients

Getting in the spooky spirit isn’t only about food. It can also be about drinks! You can make apple cider with a few simple ingredients (apples, sugar, water, cinnamon, allspice), simmered, and it always comes out delicious. Invite friends for a potluck, where others can bring seasonal foods, desserts, and snacks. This simple recipe can be found here.

7. Do a fall reflective exercise

Fall is an excellent time for reflection. As the leaves change and the earth starts its annual practice of decay, we often ponder how certain parts of our lives are coming to a close while other life journeys are just beginning. Fall also brings harvest season, a time for reflecting on how far you have come and honoring the hard work you have accomplished to get to where you are. Questions to ponder: what do you want to change in the coming year? What can you appreciate/celebrate from this past year? How might you be open to this time of transition and change in your life?


[Image Description: Puppy jumping at a pumpkin.]

Pictured: Tackle the spooky season head-on.

8. Attend Stargazing Night on November 13th

As October comes to a close, nights continue to get longer. With this added darkness, stargazing can become more and more enjoyable! The Graduate Student Resource Center has you covered for all your stargazing desires. Grad students, postdocs, and their families are invited to Stargazing Night at the Bell Tower from 6-8pm on Monday, November 13th. Light refreshments will be provided. You can even invite friends and family and bring food to picnic at the event. Bringing a camping chair and a jacket is recommended as it might be chilly.

9. Relax at the Stress Relief Fair on October 25th

The Graduate Student Resource Center invites you to get your stress relief on! Each quarter (and summer, too), our Stress Relief Fair returns with free food, games, and the chance to relax in the Physics Courtyard from 3-5pm on Wednesday, October 25th. There will be great food and activities designed to reduce your stress levels and help get you through the rest of the quarter. This event is organized in collaboration with the Well.


[Image Description: A sleepy dog wrapped in a blanket with a teddy bear.]

Pictured: You at the Stress Relief Fair.

10. Hike Mt. Rubidoux (as the weather cools?)

Letting off steam is essential as a graduate student. One way to do this physically and benefit your health is to hike Mt. Rubidoux. Mt. Rubidoux has 3.5 miles of paved roads and dirt hiking trails on 161 acres. Whether you are an early morning hiker or desire to be on the trails in the evening, the trails are here for you, as they are open from dawn to dusk. More information about the park, including parking information, can be found here.

Embrace the season! Have a great month!