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Beat post-festival blues: 5 effective science-based tips for recovery

Published Jun 26, 2023 | Updated Feb 14, 2024

You’ve probably been there; driving back home from a festival weekend thinking about this incredible experience. Music festivals can indeed be life-changing. Seeing your favourite artists while creating amazing memories with friends, and enjoying every second of it reminds you of how important it is to be free and at the same time gives you the time and space to do what you want when you want it. This freedom can come with consequences as it usually affects most festival goers' physical and mental health making them feel the post-festival blues. Recovering from long periods of partying, drinking alcohol and taking party drugs can be very strenuous for the body and mind. Here are 5 science-based tips on how you can help yourself feel better and how to recover from a comedown. 

How do you bounce back from a hangover fast?

As the human body is made up of somewhere between 55% and 75% of water, hydrating your body is very important[1]. The European Food Safety Authority known as EFSA also claims that water contributes to the maintenance of normal physical and cognitive functions[2]. So, what’s the best hangover recovery? 

1 Drink plenty of water

Consuming alcohol causes your body to pass more urine than normal which can lead to dehydration[1]. You can read more about how does alcohol affect the brain to get even more insight. In any case, it’s best for your mind and body for you to limit alcohol consumption at a festival. However, ensuring you’re making a conscious effort to drink water to maintain hydration as well is the second best option[1]. Water also helps you flush out the toxins that affect the liver and allows your body to begin the reparation process after a wild festival weekend[3]. Therefore, rehydrating your body after the festival is crucial. The NHS recommend that you drink 6–8 glasses of water per day[3]. The key is to start drinking in the morning and continue to do so regularly throughout the day. You can drink only plain water or include low-fat milk and sugar-free or low-in-sugar drinks such as tea. 

How do festivals affect mental health?

The morning after the festival ends, there’s a chance you’ll feel like your brain has forgotten how to produce your feel-good chemical serotonin on its own. Alcohol and drugs have done the job for it during festivals[4,5,6,7,8] and that’s why you feel like you’re dealing with post-festival depression. It can take a few days for the brain to start producing serotonin at its normal levels again, and in the meantime, life can be difficult to manage. All you want to do is stay in your room as your mood is down and your social battery is low. Wondering how to cure a comedown from MDMA or the post-festival blues? You can help boost your mood by ensuring you have enough of the building block of your feel-good chemical serotonin in your body[9]. 

2 Boost your 5-htp levels 

Increasing the levels of 5-htp in your brain helps the release of serotonin when you’re remembering happy events like the festival you’ve just been to[10]. To get the 100 mg of 5-htp that you need, you should make sure you’re enjoying a protein-rich diet and eat foods such as tofu, meat, cheese and fish. Alternatively, you can opt for a high-quality 5-htp supplement such as brain feed’s 5-htp. It’s an isolated nutrient extracted from the Griffonia seed. Each 5-htp capsule contains 100 mg of the compound and you can take up to two of them per day to boost your mood. New customers can use the code ‘NEW15’ at the checkout to get 15% off their first order.

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What should I eat after a festival? 

Protein-rich and high-carb diet full of minerals and vitamins does the trick. The festival period is usually also celebrated with delicious fast food from food trucks that can make your mouth water. However nice that food is, your body will thank you if you change it for delicious healthy meals that you can make at home. 

3 Eat protein-rich & high-carb foods, minerals and vitamins 

One meal per day made with foods high in tryptophan, minerals and vitamins topped with a portion of high-carb will help your regeneration after the festival[11,12]. Here are some ideas for the week after the comedown: 

  1. Chicken Spinach Fettuccine Pasta with a side of Green Peas
  2. Turkey sandwich with lettuce and cucumbers
  3. Baked salmon with broccoli, kale and sweet potatoes
  4. Kale crisps, PBJ sandwich, and two slices of yellow melon
  5. Apple, blueberry, pineapple and kale smoothie with peanut butter and Greek yoghurt
  6. Peanut butter chicken kale and mushroom pad thai with spaghetti
  7. Lettuce wraps with turkey, plum tomatoes and eggs + popcorn as a snack

Why am I so tired after a festival?

Festival life is far different from your normal day-to-day life; waking up late and staying up until early morning hours can mess up your sleep-wake schedule. 

4 Sleep longer and better 

Sleep is vital for the restoration of cognitive functions such as memory and problem-solving[13]. A literature review of 12 studies on the U.S. military population also found that cognitive performance is negatively impacted by increased sleep deprivation[14]. The results showed that reaction times and cognitive processing speed were slower while the accuracy of the responses on cognitive tasks decreased when the population was deprived of sleep. Another literature review also looked at how napping affects cognition[15]. The 52 studies they’ve reviewed showed that short periods of sleep which last less than 30 minutes are beneficial for memory function. Therefore, ensure you get your 8 hours of sleep during the night and take an afternoon nap if needed. Remember to make sure to keep an eye on your 5-htp intake as well since serotonin is converted into your sleep hormone melatonin at night to aid sleep[16]. 5-htp will help you produce serotonin but you also need to help your body release it. 

How do you detox your body after a festival? 

The answer: workouts. As much as it is important to let your body rest and replenish your energy, workouts can benefit your health and also boost the release of serotonin, your feel-good chemical. An extensive literature review of 80 studies found that exercise affects cognition[17]. The effects increased with longer session duration. Another study on 187 participants also found that physical activity helped physically active participants feel less exhausted compared to the group that was only instructed to rest[18]. 

5 Easy workouts to ease you in

Physical activity after a rough weekend should be just challenging enough. Try swimming or walking and leave the lifting session in the gym for next week. Bonus points if you take your workouts outside as sunlight also helps boost your serotonin production. The NHS recommends you exercise every day for at least 150 minutes over the week[19].

Remember: eat, sleep, drink, repeat. Throw in a little bit of exercise as well and you’ll be as good as new sooner than you think.



[1] The Importance of Hydration (2020). Team Prevent UK.

[2] EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to water and maintenance of normal physical and cognitive function (ID 1102, 1209, 1294, 1331), maintenance of normal thermoregulation (ID 1208) and “basic requirement of all living things” (ID 1207) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal 2011, 9( 4), 2075-2091.

[3] Hydration (n.d.). NHS inform. 

[4] Dameh, M., Emad, S., Hussein, D. M., Al-janabi, D. R., Al-Mualm, M., & Altamimi, B. S. (2022). Association of Sleep Disorders and Mood State with Dopamine and Serotonin Levels in Alcoholism: A Psychological Comparative. Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities, 5(1), 114–121.

[5] McKinley, R. L. (2022). Marijuana, a Journey through the Endocannabinoid System: Unmasking the Paradoxical Effect - Part 1. In F. A. Badria (Ed.), Phenolic Compounds: Chemistry, Synthesis, Diversity, Non-Conventional Industrial, Pharmaceutical and Therapeutic Applications (Vol. 26, pp. 23–49). IntechOpen.

[6] van de Blaak, F. L., & Dumont, G. J. H. (2022). Serotonin transporter availability, neurocognitive function and their correlation in abstinent 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine users. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 37(1), e2811.

[7] Bisagno, V., & Cadet, J. L. (2021). Methamphetamine and MDMA Neurotoxicity: Biochemical and Molecular Mechanisms. In R. M. Kostrzewa (Ed.), Handbook of Neurotoxicity (pp. 1–24). Springer International Publishing.

[8] Farooque, U., Okorie, N., Kataria, S., Shah, S. F., Bollampally, V. C., Farooque, U., Okorie, N., Kataria, S., Shah, S. F., & Bollampally, V. C. (2020). Cocaine-Induced Headache: A Review of Pathogenesis, Presentation, Diagnosis, and Management. Cureus, 12(8).

[9] Jones, L. A., Sun, E. W., Martin, A. M., & Keating, D. J. (2020). The ever-changing roles of serotonin. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 125, 105776.

[10] Korb, A. (2017). Boosting Your Serotonin Activity. Psychology Today.,a%20more%20in%2Ddepth%20look.

[11] Starchy foods and carbohydrates (2023). NHS.

[12] Jaarsma, C. (2021). 10 water-rich foods to help you stay hydrated. Bupa.

[13] Vyazovskiy, V. V. (2015). Sleep, recovery, and metaregulation: explaining the benefits of sleep. Nature and Science of Sleep, 7, 171–184.

[14] Petrofsky, L. A., Heffernan, C. M., Gregg, B. T., & Smith-Forbes, E. V. (2022). Effects of Sleep Deprivation in Military Service Members on Cognitive Performance: A Systematic Review. Military Behavioral Health, 10(3), 202–220.

[15] Leong, R. L. F., Lo, J. C., & Chee, M. W. L. (2022). Systematic review and meta-analyses on the effects of afternoon napping on cognition. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 65, 101666.

[16] Erland, L. A. E., & Saxena, P. K. (2017). Melatonin Natural Health Products and Supplements: Presence of Serotonin and Significant Variability of Melatonin Content. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine : JCSM : Official Publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 13(2), 275–281.

[17] Ludyga, S., Gerber, M., Pühse, U., Looser, V. N., & Kamijo, K. (2020). Systematic review and meta-analysis investigating moderators of long-term effects of exercise on cognition in healthy individuals. Nature Human Behaviour, 4(6), 603–612.

[18] Coleman, E. A., Goodwin, J. A., Kennedy, R., Coon, S. K., Richards, K., Enderlin, C., Stewart, C. B., McNatt, P., Lockhart, K., & Anaissie, E. J. (2012). Effects of exercise on fatigue, sleep, and performance: a randomized trial. Oncology Nursing Forum, 39(5), 468–477.

[19] Physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64 (2021). NHS.

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