trisha hadley

Festival Love, Biopsychosocial Wellness

4 hours and I'll be in paradise. Epic jams, feet in the sand, salty air, sun, sun, sun. (Nevermind the forecast of rain everyday.)

Music festivals have a certain energy to them. Their seemingly exponential increase in popularity would lead one to infer it's a good energy. An attractive energy. My imminent adventure has got me thinking about the implications of such festivals. 

So, you read the title. Bio-whaa, you ask? Pretty much my exact response the first time I heard it as well. Then I heard it 100 more times. Then 1000. 10,000? It wouldn't surprise me.

Biopsychosocial is a model first proposed by George Engel in the late 1970's claiming that biological, psychological, and social factors all play a role in the illness--wellness continuum. Consider an example of a person with cancer. Clearly there is a biological component of abnormal cell growth and division, a treatment plan often involving radiation or chemotherapy. Psychologically, what is going through their mind when they receive this diagnosis? Are they depressed? Confused? Inspired to live life to the fullest? There is certainly a change in their social existence, accommodating said treatment plan and sharing familial responsibilities. People may treat them differently in social situations (which may then affect their psychological being, which may then affect their biological being). The point is these 3 areas of our lives are all intimately intertwined and all contribute to our wellbeing. You can read more here if you're interested, so this post doesn't turn into a CAM lecture. 

But somewhere in the middle of said lecture that I'm trying to avoid subjecting you to, it clicked. We are more than just our bodies (though our medical system often reduces us to just that). And our health and happiness depends on more than just our bodies functioning properly. 

In comes music festivals. 



They may not be the first thing you associate with wellness, but festivals provide much nourishment for our bodies (and souls). The simple act of standing -- or dancing -- for hours on end engages muscles, uses energy. Spending the day outside connecting with nature, breathing clean air, and soaking in the sunshine for a vitamin D boost are all healing elements of the experience. If it's hot, keeping a Camelbak full will keep you hydrated. If you're sweating from said heat -- or dancing -- you're detoxing. Not to mention the awesomely unique and healthy food truck options available at many festivals. Sign me up. 


Music is good for the soul. Anyone that enjoys festivals understands that to a certain extent. It may mean something different to each person, but that sweet vibrational nourishment feeds your soul. Your psyche. Break from a monotonous reality. Submersed in a new one. Standing at a show, completely present, worries gone, stress melting away. Mental wellness at its finest. 


I love festivalgoers. Yeah sure, there's always that guy that had a few too many Sierra Nevadas and is talking ridiculously loud during the show about nothing of importance, but overall festival people rock. Especially when you find your niche, your people. I absolutely love the jam community. I'm convinced they are the best people in the world. I see people at shows that I don't know, but I know them. (Probably better than 50% of my Facebook friends.) People take care of each other at festivals. Always. Even if it is the annoying-drunk-show-talker guy. This social element is in addition to the quality time you're spending with your close knit friends. Community big and small. Beautiful, beautiful community. 


And then there is intersection of the 3. That moment at a show when every person in the crowd is completely invested. Different interpretations, same stimulus. Mirror neurons engaged. Totally present. One with the music. Collective consciousness. 

There you have it. Festival love, biopsychosocial wellness. 

As if you needed another reason to go.  

Background image by Sebastian Glasl.