Even in a country with weather as unpredictable as the UK’s, there’s something truly special about festival season. Dusting off your most outrageous attire and dancing to your favourite bands, surrounded by your closest friends, covered in lashings of (hopefully bio-degradable) glitter and sipping bevvys in the sun – there’s nothing like it. To be honest, even those dreaded portaloos have their own place in the experience.
But let’s face it, no one’s ever claimed that a weekend spent partying hard is a fast track to crushing your fitness goals. Four straight days of little sleep, lukewarm cider and the kind of ice-cream-and-burgers diet that your seven-year-old self would proud of is never going to make you feel tip-top. Add a hefty dose of sun (or a rain-induced cold) and you’ve got the recipe for one very rundown human.
There are, however, a few things we can do to stay healthy at festivals. And no, we don’t mean staying sober and retiring to your tent by 10pm. Instead, we’re talking useful – and fortunately simple – self-care hacks that you can use to keep you feeling great and powering through. Without further ado, here are a few hints for staying ‘well’ this festival season, without compromising on fun.
Don’t forget sunblock
You may think you’re more likely to find yourself wading through a quagmire than burning to a crisp at a festival in the UK, but according to FestivalSafe, an advice website supported by some of the nation’s biggest events, sunburn and sunstroke are among the most common complaints that medics end up dealing with.
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Not only is lobster-chic a terrible look, but sunburn can also lead to dehydration and blisters. Even at the lower end of the scale, when people are grazing your toasty arms as they push past you to get to the front, it’s going to sting.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, their advice to combat this is relatively simple: “Stay hydrated, wear a hat, cover up if it’s sunny and slap on a high SPF cream.” In other words, think of what your mum would tell you to do, and do it.
Fortunately, the days of cheeseburgers and greasy chips are now behind us, and with stews and salads galore all readily available, there’s little excuse not to eat well, even if you do indulge here and there. Among our favourite options are husband-wife duo Wholefood Heaven, who are appearing at events all over the country this summer and whose delicious veg-packed Buddha bowls previously won Best Main Dish at the British Street Food Award.
In a more DIY fashion, pop a jar of protein-packed nut butter and a pack of rice cakes into your bag to stash in your tent, as well as some fruit that doesn’t bruise easily for first thing in the morning. Homemade trail mix and protein balls should are ideal for snacking throughout the day and will fit into a bum-bag.
Water, water and more water
It will, of course, be tempting to use your refillable bottle to keep your spirits chilled, but do pay serious attention to how much water you’re drinking over the weekend, as the combination of alcohol and sun exposure lead to dehydration. As you probably already know, with dehydration comes headaches, nausea, dizziness and brain fog.
How much you’ll need to drink can depend on a lot of factors, but as a rule the NHS recommends aiming for six to eight glasses per day. However, if it’s warm outside or you’re drinking alcohol then you’ll need to up this somewhat. For an added boost, pack some re-hydration sachets or even a bottle of electrolyte-heavy coconut water.
Remember: with major festivals including Glastonbury now going totally plastic-free, you’ll need to bring your own bottle and scout out your nearest kiosk or refill station when you first arrive.
Stretch it out
While we understand that anything more active than a shuffle to the next stage will sound like the equivalent of a marathon by day three, it is worth keeping active during your trip as those same mood-boosting, set-you-up-for-the-day principles still apply whether you’re on the gym floor or a muddy field.
Take advantage of the free yoga and Pilates classes that many festivals are now offering, or alternatively, make the most of your data by streaming this Steffy White for Balance TV yoga flow to your phone from the (relative) comfort of your tent. Also a good idea: a battery pack.
Know where the medical tents are
And make the glorious people who staff them your new festival BFFs. We don’t mean check in with them every 10 minutes, but they’re the people who will be able to provide you with paracetamol when your headache gets too much, dress your war-wounds, and – perhaps most importantly - help if anything serious happens.
And when you get home
No matter how delicious that stuffed crust pizza may sound at the end of the weekend, getting some much-needed nutrients into your body asap will be just what the doctor ordered. So either bear that in mind when you’re making your desperate Deliveroo order, or even better, make sure you’ve got something prepped in your freezer before you leave!
And after all that there’s only one thing left to do: SLEEP.