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10 Ways to Enjoy Pride When You Have Crowd Anxiety

10 Ways to Enjoy Pride When You Have Crowd Anxiety

Pride comes with massive crowds, but it doesn’t have to come with massive amounts of anxiety. 

Pride can be overwhelming for people who thrive on social interaction, so if you have crowd anxiety it might feel like too much. Still, if you’re eager to go, there are a lot of ways to enjoy the day and avoid full-blown panic mode. Here are 10 things you can control that will help you make the most of Pride:

1) Explore the parade route before Pride.
[iframe // allowfullscreen="" class=^{{"giphy-embed"}}^ frameborder="0" height="423" width="750"]A few days before Pride celebrations start along the parade route, take a couple of hours to walk around the area. Get a sense of where nearby businesses are, and ask if they’ll be open on Pride and what kind of crowds they normally get. Figure out where the quieter residential streets are, and which coffee shop you might be able to escape to.

2) Get a good night’s sleep.Everything is easier to handle if you’ve had enough rest. Go to bed early the night before Pride. Sleep depravation will only make your anxiety more difficult to manage.

3) Bring a Pride buddy who will have your back.
[iframe // allowfullscreen="" class=^{{"giphy-embed"}}^ frameborder="0" height="314" width="750"]An understanding friend at Pride will go a long way. Make sure you’re upfront about the situation. If you need someone to be there every step of the way, say so. If you’re uncomfortable getting separated in a crowd and meeting up later, let them know.

4) Stay in your right state of mind.
[iframe // allowfullscreen="" class=^{{"giphy-embed"}}^ frameborder="0" height="419" width="750"]Okay, I’m not your mom, so I won’t tell you can’t do anything at Pride. But avoid getting drunk. Drinking and anxiety do not mix. It’ll only make it harder to find your way through a crowd, or to get home later.

5) Pack all the self-care essentials.
The night before Pride, pack a bag full of all the essentials. Bring plenty of water, portable food (like granola bars, fruit, and nuts), sunscreen, and enough emergency cash to keep on your person for a cab or a Lyft home in case you lose anything in the crowd. As a bonus, you know who everyone wants to be friends with four hours into Pride when the sun is beating down? The cool person who remembered sunscreen.

6) Leave early to avoid major transportation crowds.
[iframe // allowfullscreen="" class=^{{"giphy-embed"}}^ frameborder="0" height="419" width="750"]Whether you’re driving (don’t if you can avoid it) or taking public transportation to Pride, you’ll want to leave early. While a lot of sweaty gay bodies on a train sounds like a fantasy to some, it’s not quite as fun with crowd anxiety.

7) Find a new focus if you get overwhelmed.
If you start to feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed by the noise, shift your focus. When I’m in big crowd situations, I usually shift my focus to taking pictures. Try to take pictures of everything red in your line of vision. Or take pictures of the best abs on the floats. Pick a theme and stick to it until you can’t find anything else to photograph, then switch to the next theme.

8) Don’t feel bad about tuning it all out.
It’s okay to take a walk to a quieter street for 15 or 20 minutes to listen to your favorite music on your headphones. Sometimes a few soothing songs are exactly what you need to give yourself the energy to go back.

9) Leave when you need to leave.
[iframe // allowfullscreen="" class=^{{"giphy-embed"}}^ frameborder="0" height="522" width="750"]It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to feel anxious. Often the best thing is to just stick it out and assess how you’re feeling every 15 minutes or so. Sometimes the only way to overcome our discomfort and anxiety is to confront it. But that doesn’t mean you have to confront it all at once. If you’re really not enjoying yourself, and you’ve given yourself enough time to adjust to the situation, it’s okay to leave. You might overcome the anxiety and realize you don’t actually enjoy parades. That’s also okay. Stay for the experience. Stay to have fun. But don’t stay to prove something to someone else or yourself.

10) Take a break between the parade and any after party activities.
[iframe // allowfullscreen="" class=^{{"giphy-embed"}}^ frameborder="0" height="422" width="750"]Take a shower. Take a nap. Have a full meal. Some people can hop from one party to the other for an entire Pride week. You are not that person, and that’s okay. Enjoy Pride and your post-Pride nap!


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Cassie Sheets