In honor of The Fest coming up next week, I decided to write a piece on how I manage my anxiety at music festivals. I know everyone has different techniques that work best for them, so please feel free to leave a comment with other helpful tricks and tips!
Preparation: I live in California so packing for me is an anxiety trigger all in itself. The best way to keep me from losing it is to write a list a few days before. I usually start with a list of the essentials: underwear, socks, toiletries, medications, phone charger, etc. Once I have all the essentials I move on to accessories like my fanny pack, GoPro, and other fun things that would suck to forget, but I can live without. Having a list always eases my anxiety because I am able to check off items one by one and actually confirm they’ve been packed.
Schedule: If you haven’t already, go download The Fest app and start creating your personalized schedule of all the bands you want to see. Even though your schedule is bound to change throughout the weekend, this app still rules because you can stay ahead of the game. My anxiety causes a lot of dependency issues so I don’t like to be alone very often. Having my schedule made makes it super easy to meet up with friends at each venue. This was a life saver last year as the group I was with constantly split up throughout the day.
Share Your Location: If you have an iPhone, share your location with friends. If you don’t have an iPhone, try using whatever the equivalent is. This is a smart technique because at Fest people like to get really drunk. If people are trying to get a hold of you or vice versa, this can be a life saver. Last year one of my friends went to our rental car and passed out. We were all worried when we didn’t hear from her for hours, but if we had her location the situation could’ve been completely avoided. Plus anxious people like me need to know that I will be found if I’m having a panic attack on some street and need my friends to come find me.
Shows: As you probably know, each venue has its own experience. Some venues are big and some are small. Some get really hot and some are bearable. Depending on what causes your anxiety, you may feel like you need to leave in the middle of a bands set. Know your exits. Whenever I enter a venue I always look for doors other than the one I came in through. I usually try to find a spot in the crowd that will allow me to get to an exit without having to push through too many people.
Know Your Limits: Don’t be afraid to take breaks. A small room full of hundreds of people screaming lyrics can make you feel hot and overwhelmed (aka me). My anxiety skyrockets when I feel my heart beating too fast so I often find myself mouthing lyrics instead of actually screaming them… try it. Drink water in between alcoholic drinks. Dehydration can make your body feel out of wack which, in return, can actually make you more prone to a panic attack.
Medication: If you take medications, do not forget to pack them! If you take anything like Xanax for quick anxiety relief I would recommend packing a few pills in your fanny pack, purse, etc. each day. You never know where you’ll end up at Fest and the worst feeling is not having your meds when you need them. Sometimes just knowing I have my meds on me gives me enough piece of mind to go on with my night. PS: Please, please, please do not drink too much on medications you know you shouldn’t be drinking on. I’m not trying to be your parent, but I don’t want anyone to get hurt at Fest for something that could be prevented.
Sleeping/Eating/Hydration: Probably the most important bit of advice I can give is to make sure you eat, drink, and get enough sleep every day. No eating can mess with your blood sugar. Blood sugar fucks with your body and makes you feel weird. Feeling weird can trigger panic attacks. Lack of sleep makes you more prone to panic attacks. Dehydration makes you more prone to panic attacks. Starting to see the trend here?
Please take care of yourself. And if you’ll be at Fest next week, I will see you there!