Going to a music festival does not provoke the same positive emotions in all of us. Many people who are dealing with mental challenges, like anxiety, will need to overcome certain stumbling stones in order to enjoy live music with others.
Today we’ll have a look at what you will need to do in order to make it a somewhat pleasurable experience for you and those around you.
I crossed paths with multiple people that experienced some extent of anxiety in the past. Whether at a music festival, in school, in public or generally in front of other people. There are various ways to become calm and relaxed again so that one can refocus.
The cause of your anxiety is mainly agoraphobia, which covers a wide range of fears, all connected to the need to escape a certain situation.
These fears in, perspective to music festivals, mean that you:
- Have difficulty with being in big crowds
- Have difficulty with being in big open spaces
- Have difficulty with being in enclosed spaces (scared of not being close to an exit door)
- Have difficulty leaving your house by yourself
We will try and find solutions for all 4 of these stumbling stones in various ways.
Firstly, you shouldn’t feel alone with this whatsoever. During the Covid-19 period, many people got stuck at home which became a safe zone and a happy place for them.
There’s nothing wrong with being happy at home and enjoying your own company for extended periods. As long as you have a handful of trusted people that you can reach out to and vice-versa.
Let’s divide the discussion into 2 parts. Since it’s different to prepare yourself mentally beforehand and what you could do during the festival itself, you can guide yourself better to the section that you need.
Preparing Yourself to Attend the Festival
It is crucial for people with anxiety to prepare themselves mentally and physically for a music festival.
1. Practice Going Outside
Before just heading to a huge festival, it is crucial that you start to get used to the outside world again.
Going for a Walk
With summer approaching and the weather improving, it’s a golden time just to go for a short walk. It doesn’t need to be too far, but just putting your nose out the door is already a big step.
Start off with a few hundred meters and then increase your distance. The walks will increase your fitness levels and provide your body with much-needed oxygen.
Find a good podcast episode to listen to and you will soon get used to being outside again.
Buying Something In-Person From a Shop
Just take some cash or a card and visit a nearby shop. Even if you buy something unimportant, the step to getting out and approaching people is a crucial one.
At a music festival, you will need to buy food or drinks from people at stands, where you might need to stand in a queue to get to the front.
Visit Your Therapist
Regular visits to your therapist should definitely be at the top of your list.
Getting the professional help you deserve will help you tremendously. Invest the time in yourself and call a therapist that can get you out of the current zone and into the public.
In the modern day, it is not strange to have a therapist, life coach or another type of support system. We are all dealing with different issues and the right type of professional help can also make your life much easier.
2. Ask a Friend or Family Member to Go With You
Having a trusted person with you would give you the security, stability and insurance that you need that a piece of home is coming with.
It’s much better having 2 people looking after each other for a weekend than struggling all alone.
Believe me, I’ve been there. Though I did not struggle with intensive anxiety, I wouldn’t recommend it to people without anxiety.
3. Embrace Your Anxiety
Realising that your anxiety actually only wants to protect you, will make you realise that you have control over it.
You can also have a conversation with it to achieve this control:
“Hey, Anxiety, I know you are only there to protect me, and sometimes also very strong. But it’s alright, I accept you with open arms and will give you a hug so that you know I am paying attention and being careful.”
In the beginning, it will feel strange and it will perhaps not work as well, but the more you practice it and embrace it, you will immediately feel free and relaxed.
This does mean that you will need to place yourself in a situation where your anxiety will be activated so that you can practice controlling it better.
4. Practice Sport Beforehand
At practising a sport, we often have many of the same symptoms as with anxiety:
- Your pulse is high
- You are sweating
- You are out of breath
These physical symptoms during an anxiety attack are connected to a negative feeling where it continues to build up. When you go jogging and experience the same symptoms, it proves to you that these symptoms are not necessarily threatening to you.
5. Packing Appropriately
Packing is a crucial part of preparing yourself mentally and physically.
Here you can already start to visualise yourself being at the festival and settling into a settled environment where you feel happy and comfortable.
Except for packing the normal things, double-check the following:
- Do you have all your medication? Something to stay calm and secure, but also something more substantial for when your anxiety kicks in strongly.
- Extra waterproof clothing and shoes? It can be extra annoying when you are outside in a big crowd and there are external factors contributing to your anxiety.
- Personalised furniture. A chair is a must. Also, make sure that your sleeping place will be your safe space or den where you can retreat and take a time out when needed.
- Headphones for music or therapy on the go.
- Extra battery packs and torches.
- Locks for safety.
These are a few things out of the ordinary that would make it easier for you to get through the weekend and make your stay more comfortable.
6. Planning Your Festival
Adding structure to your weekend will help guide you through all the uncertainty. It might not all happen as planned, but you will feel way more orientated and organised knowing what to expect:
- What do the festival grounds look like? try to find a map online and check where good camping spots might be for you. (close to medical aid, toilets, closer to the outskirts of the grounds)
- When do your preferred artists play? Search for the times and stages to know that you won’t miss them.
- What type of food stalls will be there for your liking? Always take some snack bars with you for emergencies.
- How do you get your tickets? In paper form or as a bracelet?
Once you feel mentally prepared with these tips, you will also feel a little fired up and excited for it all to start.
By the way, if you are also dealing with ADHD, I published a really helpful blog post about how well music benefits people with ADHD. You can find it right here.
Guiding Your Anxiety At The Festival
7. Arriving at the Festival Early
Count on the possible traffic on your way there. There’s always plenty of traffic before a festival because everyone wants to get in simultaneously.
I loved arriving at festivals earlier and finding my own space. I remember driving there a day earlier in order to just make it my home without any interference from outside factors. The festival grounds were so clean and untouched in comparison to the after.
I would highly recommend that you arrive as early as possible so that you can find your own camping space and get to start preparing your environment.
This post was written and posted by De Wet from startingmyband.com on 24.04.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.
8. Prepare Your Environment
Doing the following will smoothen your weekend away:
- Find landmarks around your camping space. Whether it’s trees, tents, trucks, buildings, stages, flags, stands etc. Make sure that you can guide yourself around the festival grounds also with a packed venue. This will ease your anxiety to find the exit door every time you need to catch a breath.
- Find the bathrooms and toilets closest to you. Most people don’t find the need to shower or bathe during such a festival, which is fair. I would also recommend that you don’t allow your anxiety this chance as well, but going to the toilet regularly is important so make sure that you have the space and the chance to go when nature calls.
- Find the food stands that fit your taste. It’s also a good idea to make contact with the workers there and ask them if they can support you when you come around. This won’t always be possible, but if they can help you through a back door, because of your social challenges, that would make your stay easier.
9. Creating Your Safe Zone
- Setting up your tent close to the exit.
- Check where the first aiders are.
- Try to find a friendly neighbour just to know that you are there. Take this step, and you will find comfortable for the whole weekend when you know there is someone taking notice of you.
- Make sure that you are able to lock your belongings. You don’t want any items lost or stolen.
10. During Performances
Try to rather find yourself outside of the crowds instead of being in the middle or front. This will help you to get out when you want to.
The advantages of being at the back of the crowd at music festivals:
- You have easy access to the toilets, your tent, and the food and drink stalls and you are close to the exit.
- You have a great view of the whole set-up from the back and have more control over your environment.
- The people are generally calmer at the back than in the front.
It will also be beneficial for you to have a moon bag or backpack with your most important things inside since you won’t always be able to return to your tent at all times.
I liked this video this helpful video from Megan Archer about What to bring INTO a music festival for some clever survival ideas. She explains more in-depth about the items you could carry with you over the festival so that you feel closer to your belongings.
Remember that the core of the festival will mainly take place during the night time or when it’s dark. The reasons for this can be found in the article I wrote about Why Concerts are Held During the Night.
How Do You Remain Calm at the Festival?
Here are some ideas and tricks to calm yourself when you feel like your anxiety is kicking in while you are in the middle of a big crowd at a festival:
- Find an open space where you can get some fresh air, and take deep breaths.
- Embrace your anxiety by having a discussion with it, telling it that you are paying attention.
- Place your index finger between your eyes. Press and hold while counting down from 10.
- Tap your thumb with each of the other fingers repeatedly.
- Eat chewing gum. Especially with CBD in it helps a lot.
- Fidget ring. Many people make use of these pretty rings to spin and play with to keep their nerves intact. Take a look at them here.
- Use an Acupressure Hand Pressure Point Clip which is a small clip that presses on the G14 pressure point and relieves the tension and stress that the body is enduring.
- Use the 3 – 3 – 3 rule: Name 3 things you see, and three things you hear, and then move 3 parts of your body. This helps you to centre your mind and bring you back to the present moment.
- Distract yourself by thinking of something funny.
If you are getting annoyed by the duration of the concerts, feel free to check out the guide I wrote about How Many Songs Per Live Performance.
I hope that this article helped you find what you needed to. If there is any info missed or to be added, please share it in the comments so that we can help each other in the process.
Making your own music is actually a great way to relieve your own stress and anxiety. If this is something that you might be interested in, don’t miss the article I published about the advantages and disadvantages to learn an instrument at different ages.
It’s never too late to learn 🙂
Until next time, enjoy the show!