My no-burn-out self-care package for Burning Man

Burning Man is an incredibly unique and transformative week-long festival in the Black Rock Desert. Based upon radical self-reliance and self-expression, it empowers you to awaken your most vulnerable, creative, and honest self. 

Besides being a festival, it’s also an opportunity to learn how to build community from the ground up with like-minded people, and to experience working under harsh environmental and physical conditions.

Given its physically demanding nature, paired with shifts in diet and lifestyle, it requires a significant amount of energy right from the get go. But many will agree that in the end, it often leaves you feeling burnt out.

Leaving such a transformative festival feeling exhausted, sick, and depleted can really have an impact on the intensity of your reflections, and on the integration of your insights.

With this notion in mind, this year I came prepared with a self-care protocol. One that ensured my cells were replete, my mind was clear, and my breath was flowing.


Here’s what my no-burn-out self-care package includes:


Bug Love with Probiotics, Zinc and Fermented Veggies 

Probiotics are key here. Happy bacterial flora mean a happy immune system. With the repeated use of public washrooms and the sparse use of showers (most camps at Burning Man don’t build showers), it’s really important to do what you can to avoid infection and general sickness. Women are often prone to urinary tract infections, but these can be avoided with daily intake of probiotics, and of course by wet wiping private lady parts. Shelf-stable probiotics are what you should be looking for, so you don’t have to worry about refrigeration.

Zinc is another helpful supplement to keep on hand and take daily at Burning Man, or at the first signs of a cold, as it’s known to reduce the duration of it.

Finally, you can also incorporate probiotic-enriched foods into your diet on the desert, like fermented vegetables kimchi and sauerkraut. As a bonus, these can be offered up to your camp as your wellness contribution, so that you all leave feeling super-charged. Remember to keep these stored over ice!


Smooth Movement with Enzymes, Magnesium and Fiber

Even though you may start off eating foods your body’s used to, chances are your diet will sway, especially on the morning’s after an all-nighter, which is kind of a regular thing at Burning Man. Combined with irregular sleeping habits, your digestive system may give you trouble, leaving you feeling bloated, gassy or even constipated. This is not the greatest situation to be in when you’ve already picked out your week’s costumes, chosen according to your comfortable size. That’s why I’ve included digestive enzymes in my self-care package. These will facilitate the breakdown of foods in your body, helping you digest food, absorb nutrients, and excrete waste products.

If you find yourself feeling fuller than usual, I also recommend you take magnesium supplements at night (magnesium citrate or bisglycinate). These improve gut motility, meaning they will help move things along. Besides supporting excretion and the softening of stool, this magical mineral has numerous benefits to the body, including relaxing the nervous system, increasing bone integrity, and supporting hydration. Start with 150-200mg before bed, and adjust as needed.

If things really aren’t moving, throw some fiber into the mix. Use soaked chia seeds (drink 2 tbsp in a glass of water before bed)  or drink a fiberlicious smoothie (see below).


Alkalize with Smoothies

A smoothie a day keeps low energy at bay! Balanced green smoothies deliver an abundance of nutrition to your body, and require very little digestive energy in the process. I call them “pre-chewed”, as the blender has done much of the work, making it easier for you to absorb nutrients. If you pack your smoothies with a superfood punch (think raw cacao, maca powder, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, goji berries), you can even get away with using fewer produce, or even packaged produce like canned pineapples. This becomes valuable as the festival days progress and fresh foods become scarce. I suggest having a shared camp blender, and creating one or two recipes for members to follow. In addition to delivering energy and nutrition, your daily smoothie also offers hydration and satiation. Pro tip: chew your smoothie! That will activate and release your digestive enzymes to help make sense of all of that incoming nutrition.

Dr. Rhea’s Super-Burner Blend:

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 bananas
  • ½ cucumber
  • 3 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao, spirulina, goji berries
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • Pinch sea salt
  • water or nut milk as needed
  • Optional: 1 scoop of green juice powder

Add all ingredients to blender. Blend on high and serve. Note: If you prefer to drink your smoothies lighter, split the portions in half, or use the above to make two batches versus one.


Scent & Soothe with Essential Oils 

Often referred to as the immune system of plants, essential oils are mandatory in my Burning Man self-care package. Besides making you smell nice and fresh, these oils have many holistic health applications, like stress relief, digestive ease, mental stimulation, and the clearing of the nasal passage, the latter of which is quite useful after several days in the dusty desert. My preferred essential oils are peppermint for digestion, eucalyptus for opening up the airways, and lemon or lime for their cleansing and antioxidant properties. As a delicious bonus, lemon and lime can be added to water. For another sharing opportunity, take an oil with you on the go, or better yet, offer someone a eucalyptus or peppermint oil aromatherapy massage! It’s important to make sure you’re using oils from a reputable company and that they’re 100% organic and chemical-free. I also recommend you only use oils that are diluted in a carrier oil, like coconut oil or almond. The brand I’ve shared in my shopping list below is the best I know, and it comes as a playa friendly roll-on that’s already fractionated with coconut oil!


Besides using these products, my Burning Man wellness protocol also includes a few activities to practice daily, like intention setting, sun gazing, and deep breathing. I keep these reminders with me in a notebook that I always have on hand, or as sticky notes affixed to the inside of my tent.

Please keep in mind, my no-burn-out Burning-Man self-care package is still (and always) a work in progress. If you think I’m missing a product or practice, please share in the comments below! 


Buying Guide

I’ve compiled my favourite brands and products into an amazon shopping list. You can access it here.


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