How To Avoid Festival Burnout And Keep Raving For Years To Come

For those who are deeply immersed in EDM culture, the scene represents a life-shaping passion. Suddenly every summer is based around festival ticket purchases and camping gear upgrades. There are a few weekends of the year that take precedent overall, that dominate conversations for the entirety of the space between events.

In the late teens and early 20s, this habitual pursuit of festivals is nothing but a joy, but these experiences do come with a price, and as any experienced raver will know, the toll doesn’t just impact wallets. What makes these experiences highly rewarding and exciting also makes them demanding on the body and the mind. Left untempered, the temptation to over-indulge in this world can turn a beautiful experience sour and lead to festival burnout.

It can be tough to face, but no one in their 30s can rave like they did when they were 18. That being said, burnout can affect ravers of all ages, and life also doesn’t end at 30. There are ways to address festival burnout that can keep you raving throughout your whole life.

What Is “Festival Burnout”?

While “burnout” is often associated with work or other life responsibilities, it can apply to many aspects of life. Passion is one of those areas, and certain characteristics of the rave and festival lifestyle are linked to burnout.

“One thing I’ve noticed in the community is that burnout is very easy to achieve for a number of reasons” explains Ty Hardie, CEO of the nutritional supplement company, Raveraide.

Hardie elaborates that repeated substance use compounded with poor diet, lack of sleep and unresolved physical or mental health issues can push individuals to the point of burnout by putting their physiology in a state of constant depletion.

“When people get into [the festival scene] they fall in love with it and they keep going not realizing the slippery slope they could be sending themselves down potentially,” Hardie says.

What’s more, Shannon Sierra, NASM-certified personal trainer and founder of Fit2Rave notes that it doesn’t take much to reach such a state of depletion.

The trainer explains that three-day festivals alone can put enormous pressure on the body as people commonly under-eat or don’t get much sleep while being much more physically active than in their everyday lives. This depletion can generate burnout that extends far beyond the festival, especially when people don’t take measures to prepare for stressors.

The physiological side of festival burnout can take a toll on everyday life, but it can also present itself in another more ambiguous way. Festivals are, in a way, an alternate reality. They are a unique space that dissolve social boundaries where people can experience a powerful sense of joy, connection, expression, and experimentation away from the stressors of everyday life.

Returning to “normal” can therefore feel like a let-down, especially if things aren’t going so great off the dancefloor. This contrast can cause a great deal of emotional turmoil and open the door to deep questions, sending some spiraling into avoidance. It’s no surprise that many people find themselves attending event after event chasing the euphoria, but this behavior can only lead to more problems.  

What are Signs of Festival Burnout?

No two people in the world share the same physiology or psychology, and everyone’s stress threshold is different, which means that festival burnout can take many forms. Understanding what burnout looks like individually requires self- awareness and a good sense of one’s own baseline. 

Getting sick after shows

When asked what festival burnout looks like for her, EDM festival content creator and host of Rave Culture Cast Emma Kapotes, notes that frequently getting sick after shows is often a sign of pushing too hard. Getting the “festival flu” is not uncommon as disease tends to spread faster in large crowds, but if it’s happening frequently, your body is likely lacking proper care.

Mood Swings

Unregulated substance use, poor diet, lack of sleep, and dehydration at festivals can also significantly disrupt the body’s neurochemical balance, which can lead to mood dysregulation long after the festival ends.

Raveraide CEO Ty Hardie notes that this can look like depression, poor cognition, memory loss, anxiety, fatigue and even dissociation. In their research to develop Raveraide, Hardie and his team developed a strong understanding of how specific nutrients contribute to maintaining a healthy neurochemistry, and he emphasizes that many of these symptoms can be curtailed or avoided altogether with a proper routine.

Taking time to rest, limiting substance use, and choosing healthy food is key, as is replenishing the nutrients and minerals lost during all those hours of dancing.

Living from festival to festival 

Those who are strongly passionate about raving and festivals often find that the scene becomes deeply intertwined into their lives, and unfortunately things can take a destructive turn when festivals become a form of unhealthy escapism.

Neglecting other life responsibilities, finances, and self-care in pursuit of attending as many events as possible are behaviors that often signal things have taken an unhealthy spin, as do substance abuse and other reckless behaviors. Maladaptive escapism can harm relationships and prevent one from acknowledging other parts of one’s life that may need attention and healing. 

Losing Interest

Chasing shows and festivals all year long can additionally make what used to be a special treat feel like a routine or even a chore.

“Sometimes if you do less events, there’s more to look forward to,” says Kapotes. “If you do so many all the time, I feel like the events kind of end up blending into one another versus if you do events a little more sparingly, they’re more special.”

How to Take Action

Understanding what festival burnout looks like is the first step to preventing it. Through a combination of self-awareness, intention setting, and preparation, it’s possible to take further steps to ensure a healthy relationship with the festival lifestyle and avoid the burnout. Below are some practical measures anyone can follow to take action.

1. Beware of FOMO

With constant exposure to social media, peer pressure and new events coming out every year, It’s easy to get sucked into thinking that you may be missing out. This is especially true in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as many ravers are eager to return to the dancefloor.

Nonetheless, there’s no need to scramble to every event. It’s important to remember that social media and certain social groups tend to distort reality and create artificial pressure to engage in an unbalanced lifestyle. 

“There will always be more events,” says Kapotes, who emphasizes that keeping budget and life obligations in mind and adding variety when choosing events helps ensure that each experience remains unique while maintaining balance in other parts of life. 

2. Set Intentions + Know Your Boundaries

A great way to audit one’s relationship with the festival lifestyle is to ask oneself some reflective questions: 

“Why do you rave?”

“What do these experiences provide for you?”

“How do festivals fit in your life? Has that changed?”

“How does __ behavior make me feel?”

Asking these questions can unveil one’s underlying intentions and provide an opportunity for a mindset change. For Hardie, a healthy relationship with the lifestyle looks like coming out of a festival feeling like he’s grown as a person.

For Sierra, it’s about “connecting to the present moment and having confidence.”  Setting positive intentions like making new connections, discovering new music, practicing self-acceptance, body positivity and personal growth can transform attending festivals from an activity intended to distract from life into a learning experience that can enrich it.    

3. Listen to Your Body

Feeling unwell takes away from being in the present during festivals. Taking care of physiological needs is key to getting the most out of the experience.

As a trainer, Sierra’s approach to preparing the body for the physical strain of festivals involves implementing a diet and exercise regimen that is realistic and manageable. This involves giving oneself at least a couple of months to adapt to a fitness routine involving cardio and weight-lifting, eating nutrient-rich foods, avoiding crash diets, and planning mealtimes and sleep into your festival schedule. 

Hardie suggests stocking up at the grocery store before checking into camp or the hotel and investing in a portable cooking appliance like a small air fryer to provide healthier food options. He also advocates for adding nutritional supplements that boost immunity, mood and brain health and  hydration into the mix. 

Lastly, all three rave-entrepreneurs emphasize taking one key action: Rest.

It’s easy to forget this simple but necessary step amidst the frenzy of festivals, but it’s perhaps the most important one in ensuring a positive experience. That means taking breaks to sit, stretch, eat and hydrate during shows.

Sleep is a priority for the weekend and giving oneself plenty of time to rest after events will help ensure a faster recovery. In the end, all these measures will help reduce harm and ensure a healthy balanced lifestyle both on and off the dancefloor.  

Images provided by Insomniac Events.

Written by
Federica Brandi

Hi! I'm Federica, I'm a writer, world traveler, and above all, I'm a dance music lover. The communities, culture, history and free expression I've encountered through raving and the world of EDM inspire me to explore the scene far and wide and to share all the stories I encounter along the way. If you see me at a show come say hi and trade kandi!

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