Festival with benefits: the surprising advantages of going to a music festival

Dr Tom Charlton
Clinical Fellow at Bupa UK
02 July 2018

Festival season is just around the corner and people are getting ready to enjoy live music, warm beer and hopefully lots of sunshine!

And besides being good fun, there are some surprising perks for your health too. Here we take a look at the health benefits of going to a music festival and share our top tips to enjoy yourself whilst staying safe.

It can improve your mood

Some research has suggested that engaging with music at a festival can enhance your mood and create a sense of belonging. A festival is also a great experience to share with your loved ones and connect with a wider community. Connection is a key way to enhance your mental wellbeing, helping you feel good about yourself and the world around you.

Unplug and embrace your new surroundings

Research shows that on average, people open apps like Facebook and Twitter around 13 times a day, so why not use this time to ditch your social media? At large festivals, you may find it difficult to use your phone, as connectivity may not be easily accessible. And it’s likely to be more difficult to keep the battery charged if you’re camping. Plus, constant phone notifications and checking messages can leave you feeling distracted and missing out on the present moment. Try to keep a social media-free environment and have fun with friends in your new surroundings instead!

Get a boost of vitamin D

Your body needs vitamin D to help you absorb calcium, which is essential for developing and maintaining healthy bones. Most of us get the vitamin D we need from sunlight, so being outside in the fresh air at a festival is a good way to top up your vitamin D levels.

There’s no set amount of time that doctors can advise as being safe in the sun though. There are too many different factors, such as your skin type, how much skin is exposed, and how long it takes for your skin to burn. This all varies from person to person. Short amounts of time should be fine, but it’s important that you don’t get burnt – make sure you follow sun safety advice and wear sunscreen.

Lower your stress levels

A recent study has found that attending a live music performance can reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The researchers monitored those attending a concert before and after and found a significant decrease on their stress hormone levels. Bear in mind though, that this was a small study and so more evidence is needed to confirm if this is the case.

All that dancing will make you feel great

Dancing – like all exercise – releases endorphins in your brain. These are the natural feel-good hormones that lift your mood and make you feel happy. Exercise can also boost your self-esteem, mood and energy levels.

Festival tips

Whether you’re camping for the full weekend or travelling abroad for an event, you’ll want to make the most of the experience. It’s important to stay safe and well, so here are a few festival tips, wherever you are in the world.

Be prepared

Even if it’s sunny in the day, the temperature will drop at night. So take layers and enough clothes for all types of weather. Make a list of what you need to bring and check you’ve packed everything before you set off.

Take care in the sun

If you’re lucky enough to have a welly-free festival or have travelled abroad, it’s vital to be safe in the sun. Be sensible – take plenty of sunscreen (with an SPF of 30 and a star rating of 5) and apply it 10-15 minutes before going out in the sun and then at least every couple of hours. Take a hat and wear some sunglasses too.

Wash your hands regularly

You could become ill if you don’t take care of your own hygiene. So make sure you wash your hands regularly, particularly after you go to the toilet and before you eat. And if it’s difficult to access clean running water, take some hand sanitiser or antibacterial gel with you.

Stay hydrated

Drinking lots of alcohol and not enough water, and being out in the sun can leave you feeling dehydrated and unwell. Keep yourself hydrated by regularly drinking water and check your water is from a good source, or drink bottled (with a sealed cap). Keep a refillable bottle with you and look out for water stations so you can top up.

Be aware of health services

Take some time to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings. There should be a first aid tent on-site, so locate this when you arrive. It’s a good idea to pack some basic supplies such as paracetamol or plasters in a first aid kit with you. And if you take any regular medication, make sure you bring enough to last you until the festival ends.

Take care with alcohol and drugs

Don’t overdo it with alcohol, as it may affect your judgement and make you behave more recklessly. Drink sensibly and stick to your limits.

Drugs are illegal for a good reason – to protect your health. But if you do take drugs, tell your friends exactly what you have taken so they can pass this information on in an emergency.

Stay together

It’s easy to lose your friends in a big crowd at a festival. If this happens, make sure you have an agreed meeting point. Set up a WhatsApp group so you can easily keep in touch if you get separated. And if you’re camping, make sure everyone in your group knows where your tent is pitched too.

Have fun

Lastly, make the most of the festival by exploring your new surroundings and enjoying the music!

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Dr Tom Charlton
Dr Tom Charlton
Clinical Fellow at Bupa UK

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