The worst feeling in the world comes on a Monday afternoon, as you arrive back from the open planes of a festival to your messy flat with that weird smell and two bust lightbulbs. Soon comes fear, self-loathing and melancholy. You will probably also shoot a lot of weird shit out of your butthole.
It's easy to not see this coming. Hurtling between Dreadzone DJ sets and guerrilla poetry workshops, as though fatigue is a made-up concept and progressive electronic-dub is a listenable genre, it's easy to feel invincible at festival. But this new-found buoyancy is only passing. Whether you're high on drugs or life, that feeling of invicibility dissolves the second you return to a reality involving public transport, Little Chef, and the immutable disaster zone that is your actual life.
Because flatlining happens to everyone, we thought it best to lend a helping hand. Yes, we’re not a professional health centre armed with medically sound information, pamphlets, and a selection of Barney the Dinosaur stickers. But we’ve been to a few festivals, have ingested as much orange juice as the kid that turned himself a Sunny D hue back in 1999, and are yet to go to sleep this summer.
So, with that in mind, here’s the guide to dealing with a festival comedown. Feel free to take our advice or continue to feel like fucking shit.
Before you go
Most things in life can be prevented, or at least stalled, if you take precautionary measures. For example, getting fat can be prevented by avoiding anything that isn’t a chia seed and unwanted early morning conversations can be circumvented by memorising mutual colleagues bus routes. The same sort of goes for comedowns – a few safeguards set up prior to the festival can at least attempt to dim the disillusionment toward life that always arrives like an unwanted after-dinner mint.
This should start with the bedroom. Returning to a room filled with discarded week-old microwave meals and sorry-looking foot detritus will shift you on the proverbial autistim emotion chart from sadface to The Scream. So make sure your bedroom is clean – not just because you spent the whole afternoon turning it over looking for that wizard’s cloak you bought at last year’s Secret Garden Party – but because, despite what you may have experimented with at university, sleeping on a mattress of Doritos crumbs and crusted phlegm is not healthy.
Get yourself down to a decent store and buy one of those air-fresheners that does the work for you. Change your sheets. Remove rotting coffee mugs and any sort of mould that has started to act like a subletting tenant. Maybe shuffle your belongings into some resplendent organisational art. Whatever. Just make sure that you’ll be proud to come back to your bedroom and treat it like a self-imposed exile while you’re riding the cognitive equivalent to The Detonator in four days time.
Once you’ve mastered the bedroom, you need to deal with your job. You know that place you slave away at for the other 300 days of the year when you’re not three-pills-deep and feeling a deep emotional connection to Goa trance? Go and tell them you won’t be coming in for the next few days. We appreciate that’s probably easier at our work than your work, so if you don’t want your boss to think you’re going spend the weekend like this guy then tell them you’re visiting a beaver refuge in Canada or anywhere that can be flown to by First Choice airways.
The important thing to remember is to make sure you’re not wanted in work at 9AM Monday morning because you will be unable to engage in basic motor functions let alone understand Excel spreadsheet formulas. If it's a choice between booking the Thursday off so you can have an extra day to "soak up the vibes" and booking the Monday off, book the fucking Monday off.
The last thing to remember is to stock your fridge with the sort of goodies that were invented for obliterating comedowns. This means: orange juice, diet coke, manuka honey, and any sort of fruit that can be demolished into a smoothie because, let’s face it, you’ll be struggling to get those molars grinding again for a while.
The Come-Up / The Festival / During
You could have the time of your life dancing away at a festival – busting the flowerpot, the water-sprinkler, and the rarely used lawnmower with people you’ve never met and will never meet again, but unless you remember to take care of yourself, well, you may not actually die, but you will most likely end up wishing that you had.
Here's a piece of solid advice from our critically lauded How To Go To a Festival In Your Twenties guide to help make the emotional pangs a little less intense:
Ecstasy is obviously the festival drug of choice but there's no point taking three pills every night. Your body will run out of serotonin, but you'll still "come up". By Saturday you'll just be a gurning, miserable mess. Pick two nights to do MDMA and on the other night stick to other stuff. Oh and don’t do any balloons; they’re for sixth formers and the sort of people that go to NASS festival.
If you struggle with sleeping after a big night, you should probably get something to help with that. But be careful – dosages vary loads from pill to pill so don't start necking a bunch like you're a recent divorcée.
And then, like the recreational drug-user that you are, remember all the other obviously important stuff like staying hydrated, eating at some point during the festival, and getting at least a few hours sleep.
You may think that all this preparation is pointless chore, but the moment you actually arrive home, having spent the last five days necking warm ciders and depleting yourself of serotonin for the foreseeable future, you’ll be undeniably grateful for the hard-work you put in beforehand. Congratulations – not only do you get a clean and warm sanctuary but you get all the free endorphins that come from treating yourself right packaged in too.
The first thing to do when you get home is remove your festival wristband. People that "keep them on for the memories" are the sort of sentient mucus that get goosebumps listening to Sam Smith and think Secret Cinema is cool. Also, if your significant other tries to do hands stuff while they've got this portable Petri dish round their wrist, it's over.
Obviously have a shower (or a bath if you’ve been shelving), then get yourself into bed, shuffle under the duvet, and try to sleep as soon as you can. It’s probably best to keep a spare pair of sheets or pyjamas handy because, let’s face it, you will cold-sweat all over your linens in a manner that makes your Christmas meat sweats seem like a feather-light dousing in rose water.
Don't get the fear. It's best not to worry about that weird guy you made out with at 4 in the morning in NYC Downlow – you were attempting to be a part-time sensual Epicurean in face-paint, he will not hunt you down. Of course, if you went back to his tent you may want to book an appointment with a GP but still, while on a comedown you should be busying yourself with less-distracting and pleasurable entities, like smoking your way through an eighth and watching TV shows you already know you like. This is not the time to give Treme a go.
Find something to cuddle – friends work best because they’re on hand for this sort of thing. If they're available, get a chinchilla because they’re really furry and pleasing to touch. But a word of warning, if your significant other was not at the festival with you – do not let them come over. They will not have sympathy for your condition; they will not be impressed by you repeatedly saying "I can't really remember" when they ask for a summary of the weekend's events.
Once you’ve done all of the above the only thing left to do is sleep some more, drink some more water, and keep on repeating until your life starts to regain some sort of semblance. Then show up at work on Wednesday and tell everyone how amazing Provence was.