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Dealing with crowds this festival season

Author: The Simple Bit

Category: Short Cuts

Some people wait all year to jump around with masses of sweaty, blissed-out festival-goers. For others crowds can be a total nightmare. But they don’t necessarily have to be.

The simple bits:

  • Crowds can be overwhelming
  • There are two different phobias to describe a fear of crowds
  • But you can get overwhelmed without suffering from a phobia
  • We’ve got some simple tips that might help

Most people would get a little nervous in a hectic, bottlenecked crowd situation. In fact, there are two phobias that describe the sensation. The fear of crowds tends to be broken up into either agoraphobia or enochlophobia. Agoraphobia is the fear of being unable to escape from a crowd. Enochlophobia is more about fear of the crowd itself – maybe even something horrible like being trampled.  

That said, you don’t have to have a diagnosed phobia to be freaked out by crowds. New York-based psychologist Dr Chloe Carmichael says, “the anxiety we feel at these events is usually on a primal level. It’s survival anxiety and it triggers your fight or flight response”.

With this in mind, let’s look at some simple tactics that might just help you deal with the stress when the festival fun gets too much

  1. Surround yourself with trusted pals

Nothing like a true festival buddy to keep things easy. Chances are you’re not the only in the group who finds big crowds confronting. Flag your fears with a supportive friend (or two) and delve into the crowd together. Then, if things get too much, you can always just tap them on the shoulder and make your way out somewhere more relaxed together.

  1. Plan your experience

To feel a bit better prepared, get a sitemap ahead of time, and identify quieter spaces. You might also share this plan with someone you trust before you get there. You might also think about leaving earlier so you can plan to have more space when you’re leaving.

  1. Breathwork

Breathing deeply and carefully can regulate your nervous system and tell your body you’re in a safe space. It’s useful in the moment but can take practice. Nothing wrong getting away from the campsite and starting the day with some yoga or meditation. Back it up with a banana and some coconut water and you’re basically getting a two-for-one festival and wellness retreat.  

  1. Remind yourself why you’re there in the first place

If the worry starts taking over, Carmichael suggests taking a moment to try to zoom out. She says, “you might tell yourself, you already thought this through and made the choice to be here, and the best thing you can do right now is focus on having fun and doing what you came here to do”.

  1. Talk to someone

Anxiety can be alienating. Try talking to friends or getting involved in online communities where people are chatting openly about crowd fears. Also, sometimes there’s only so much you can do on your own. It often helps to speak to a professional to help get an objective, professional opinion.