Stay Well – and Smart! – this Summer

Photo by MAX SHARP.

By Dr. Elsa Haddad  |  Health & Wellness

I’m sure that you think you already know what I am going to say before you read this. Well, to some extent you are right: When attending summer music festivals –or any outdoor event for that matter – put on lots of sunblock and insect repellent, and drink lots of water. That’s all true, but there’s a lot more to staying well than what you carry in your bag, such as common sense, awareness and temperance.

“Prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts” is the dictionary definition of common sense, so avail yourself to your inner gut radar and listen to it! For example, no matter how much sunblock you’ve put on, if you feel like you’re burning, you probably are. It will not help when your back blisters to blame it on the sunblock. It will not ease the pain, so listen and act appropriately. If you really want to wear those cute, blister-generating shoes, go ahead and do so. But prepare yourself by throwing a pair of flip-flops in your bag. If you don’t and you end up with bloody feet, don’t blame the shoes, blame your lack of common sense!

You may take all the precautions you believe will ensure a great and safe time, but unless you are well aware of your surroundings, you may find yourself in a situation not covered in your handbook or your backpack. Awareness ensures that you will always respond to your environment appropriately. Most athletes have at one time or another felt the effects of heat, as in heat stroke. Maybe not the full-blown, delirious, go-to-the-hospital kind, but maybe just the I-feel-horrible kind. If you have never experienced this, be aware that it can come on quickly without much notice. You can start to feel dizzy, develop a fast heart rate and maybe even pass out. Many of the early symptoms are just like being intoxicated, and you may not realize that this will be worse than your worst hangover. So stay aware and listen to what your body is telling you.

Probably the hardest of all the above to carry with you in this setting is temperance. I think most of us equate partying with drinking, myself included. I believe that a little alcohol can go a long way, as can a serving of nachos. Have fun, indulge, but again, be aware and be prepared. It makes it difficult to do any of that if you are partying like Don Julio is leaving town. If you are feeling beyond loose, slow the alcohol and switch to water or sugar-free and caffeine-free soft drinks. Sugar, alcohol and caffeine all dehydrate. Additionally, if you feel like you’re at a good level but your friend has had one too many, help them out. Make sure they’re only just a little over-served as opposed to being at the point of needing actual medical help. Everyone can lose themselves in the music, but no one should lose track of where they are.

If you consider yourself an adult, then consider yourself responsible for you! It seems to me—and granted, I’m an old person—that our society today has a tendency to blame others for their troubles, failures or shortcomings. It’s all about you and it’s all about claiming your own power. Be strong, have fun, be aware and have a wonderful (safe) summer. VT