Your tickets are purchased, your outfits are picked out, and all of your favorite artists are playing! But, as the event gets closer, you start to feel anxious and overwhelmed. Maybe, out of nervousness, you even start to reconsider going to the festival in the first place. You may be worried about losing your friends, getting claustrophobic in a big crowd, or missing your favorite sets.
No matter what part of the festival triggers your anxiety, know that you’re not alone! Experiencing festival anxiety is incredibly common, especially if you’re prone to anxiety in day-to-day life. The good news is, you can cope with these difficult emotions by trying these tips and tricks.
Prep Your Mind and Body
In the weeks leading up to the festival, be sure to eat well, drink plenty of water, and take vitamins. You may experience more anxiety if you’re not taking proper care of yourself.
Practice Coping Techniques
Try a few techniques to calm yourself down and practice the ones you like. If you start to feel anxious, you can use these techniques to center yourself.
You can try breath work like square breathing, where you inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds.
You can also try grounding yourself by engaging your senses with the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
It can give you peace of mind to have some comfort items with you at the festival. You might like to hide behind a pair of sunglasses or drape a pashmina over your head. You can also come prepared with earplugs or a fidget toy to help calm your senses. Depending on the event, you may be able to bring in essential oils, which can work wonders for self soothing.
If you’re camping, try packing your gear well in advance to avoid any stress about forgetting things. If you rush your packing process, you might experience more anxiety - so do yourself a favor and start pulling out your gear early. Also, check out this list of packing essentials for camping festivals to make sure you're more than prepared.
Have Back-up Plans
Creating a plan with your group will help ease anxiety about getting lost. Choose an easy meeting spot and plan to check in at certain times, in case you do get separated. It’s a good idea to have at least one buddy if you need to leave the group to get water or use the bathroom.
Stay Hydrated & Fed
Sometimes your physical health directly effects your mental health. Make sure that you're staying hydrated throughout the festival, and don't go hungry for too long. You're burning a lot of energy walking around the festival grounds and dancing, so take care of yourself like the badass festival athlete that you are.
Advocate for Yourself
It’s important that you go to the festival with people you can trust. Get comfortable asking for what you need and don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it. Maybe you can come up with a code word for if you need to leave a crowd. Or, if physical touch soothes you, ask your friends to hold your hand or hug you. If you need to leave the stage, get water, or simply sit down for a second, vocalize your needs so your friends can help. For this reason, don't be afraid to be selective about who you go to a festival with. Your rave fam should support you and make you feel safe.
In an Emergency
Don't be afraid to get medical care if you need it. Medical care at most festivals is free, and attendees are encouraged to get help when they need it regardless of if they're under the influence. Medical professionals are there to keep you safe and healthy, and can either help you in a mental health crisis or find a way for you to get help from someone better prepared. For EDC Las Vegas, Insomniac has health and safety information posted here.
Remember that it’s completely normal to experience pre-festival jitters. But, if your anxiety is negatively impacting you before a festival, try these tricks and see if they help. Trust that you will enjoy yourself, knowing you’ve done the preparation to set yourself up for success. Many of us get overwhelmed before an event and lose sight of the reasons why we love raving in the first place. The music, community, and good vibes make it all worth it.
This article is not meant to replace professional help. If you or someone you know is struggling, we strongly encourage you to seek help from your primary care provider or a mental health professional. You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line via text or Facebook message by texting 'HOME' to 741741, or check out this list of resources for other types of support.