How to Maintain Your Health During Festival Season
It's summer and officially festival season. Are you ready to do a little traveling? Beer and wine festivals, CBD and holistic wellness festivals, wild swimming parties, and outdoor conventions litter our social calendars.
But what's even more exciting? Music festivals and conferences that span cities, states and countries with picturesque backdrops, live music and high energy.
Festivalgoers know how much fun it is to enjoy time in the midst of others who share our interests. It's exciting to travel to festivals and lower our inhibitions, find comfort and familiarity in strangers that are soon to be friends and, most of all, to have a good time.
High-energy events can be exciting; yet, they can take a toll on our mental, physical and sexual health as our routine is thrown off balance.
But there's one thing often neglected during festival season: your health.
You might be dancing all day, enjoying food that may not entirely agree with your body and perhaps partaking in vices to a degree your body isn't used to.
Before you push yourself to the limits this summer, consider maintaining your health with a few simple tips.
Get tested for STIs
Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is important, especially when casual hookups may be standard operating procedure at a music festival or out on the road. However, thinking about a possible STI may not be the first thing that's on your mind when there's so much happening around you.
Given recent events, COVID-19 may seem like the only reason for concern at a mass event. It's not. Testing for STIs before you head out is a smart move. Only Australia has reported a spike in sexually transmitted infection testing and intent for regular future testing, according to a 2021 report.
Schedule an appointment at your doctor's office or a clinic for a quick checkup if you have been sexually active. Updated knowledge of your personal sexual health can help you responsibly approach any encounter with confidence.
If you engage in any sexual activity during your festival experience, be sure to schedule another STI test post-event.
Stock up on contraception
While you're at the clinic or doctor's office getting tested for STIs, consider stocking up on contraception. If you haven't yet found a contraceptive you like, speak to your doctor to learn more about other birth control options so you can find the type that's right for you.
Gynecologists usually write a prescription for the birth control pill for up to a year at a time. Health clinics typically have access to pill prescriptions, abortion pills (in states where they are legal) and condoms, among other birth control options.
Help support your immune system
One of the leading micronutrients to support and defend our immune system is vitamin C. It directly supports cellular functions in the immune system.
Vitamin C can help boost antioxidant levels in the blood by up to 30 percent, according to a 2003 study. Taking a vitamin C supplement pill, drinking a vitamin C concentrate powder or enjoying a tincture can help keep you fueled in the days and weeks leading up to a festival. Consider bringing your vitamins with you for ongoing preventive care.
You have many whole food and herbal options to help keep your immune system in check. Elderberries, legumes and certain produce, such as citrus and carrots, are among these options. Plus, if you take a cooler or a portable refrigerator, you can keep all kinds of produce fresh and ready to eat at the campsite.
Stock up on sanitary wipes
Being outside—whether it's a four-day camping trip or hours of sweaty moshing at a one-day music festival—may have you feeling a bit grimy by nighttime.
"For any outdoor event or activity, I would recommend always having some feminine wipes on deck," said Rachel Smith, L.M.F.T., C.S.T., a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist in Cooper City, Florida. "We must not neglect our hygiene, and feminine odors can lead to significant feelings of insecurity sexually."
Truly, the same advice works for men as well as women. Stocking up on skin-sensitive wet wipes can help you feel clean and confident during the festivities.
Create a safe sex plan
Having a system in place for communication when you and your friends wander off to experience new things can be liberating. Having a plan for communicating with sexual partners is just as important.
"In terms of maintaining healthy sexual boundaries, it's important to negotiate any expectations related to sexual activities with your partner/partners," Smith said. "This may include things like safe sex practices like the use of contraception, safe words if exploring different sexual acts, or opening the relationship up to other sexual partners.
Also, be clear about sexual activities you are open to—and not open to, she added.
The best you can do health-wise this summer is to make a plan before you leave the house. Addressing various aspects of your health now will help you have that much more fun later.
The bottom line
"High-energy events can be exciting; yet, they can take a toll on our mental, physical and sexual health as our routine is thrown off balance and we are more likely to engage in riskier behaviors than the usual," explained Genesis Games, L.M.H.C., a licensed mental health counselor in Miami.
Create a plan for how to support your health at these events. Also, know how you plan to bounce back after you are home.
"Ultimately, the high-energy event is meant to add value to our life, not subtract anything significant—like health or wellness," Games said.