Hero Animation
Hero Image

Managing anxiety, loneliness, and addiction during Stampede

Managing anxiety, loneliness, and addiction during Stampede

Stampede is in full swing here in Calgary. With its vibrant atmosphere, large crowds, and emphasis on celebrating, it can be overwhelming and triggering for many. We asked our counselling team about the biggest mental health concerns during Stampede, and they named anxiety, loneliness, impulsiveness, and addiction being the largest. Here’s their tips on how to navigate them. 

Managing Anxiety at Stampede 

If you’ve been to the Calgary Stampede, you know how chaotic it can be. While anxiety and its triggers look different for everyone,  here’s a few of the largest triggers you can find at Stampede: 

Loud Noises or Music: Events like rodeos, concerts, and parades often feature loud noises and music, which can be distressing for some individuals. 

Crowded Spaces: The sheer number of people can make simple, day-to-day tasks overwhelming. 

Emotionally Intense People or Groups: The excitement and energy of events may lead to encounters with emotionally charged individuals or groups, which can be unsettling. 

Unexpected or Unwanted Physical Contact: In crowded environments, there may be instances of unwanted physical contact or invitations for hugs or handshakes, which can be uncomfortable for some. 

Heavy Traffic: Navigating busy road traffic by train, bus, or car can add to stress levels. 

Tips to Manage Anxiety 

  1. Pause and Breathe: Stop for a moment and take slow, deep breaths. Deep breathing helps to activate the relaxation response and can calm your nervous system. 
  1. Focus on Something Non-Threatening: Look at your watch or other objects around you to distract your mind from overwhelming stimuli. 
  1. Take Someone with You: Going to Stampede with a friend or family member can provide support and lower anxiety levels. 
  1. Practice Visualization: Close your eyes briefly and imagine yourself in a peaceful place. Visualize a calming scene or a place where you feel safe and relaxed. 

Remember, managing anxiety during Stampede is about finding what works best for you. Prioritize self-care and take breaks if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Be gentle with yourself. 

Addressing Loneliness During Stampede 

Loneliness can make people feel isolated even in a crowd. The Calgary Stampede has a magical way of bringing everyone in the city together to celebrate, and not taking part in the activities can make you feel like you’re missing out. Whether you’re new to Calgary or dealing with a recent breakup, seeing others enjoy Stampede with their loved ones can trigger feelings of loneliness. This can lead to negative self-talk or prevent you from seeking enjoyable activities.  

Strategies to Manage Loneliness 

  • Engage in Group and Individual Activities: Check out the Stampede website for nearby events that interest you. 
  • Use Social Media: Connect with others and consider volunteering to gain a sense of purpose and belonging. 
  • Stay in Touch with Loved Ones: Phone or video calls and planning future get-togethers can help cope with loneliness. 
  • Practice Positive Affirmations: Engage in mindfulness, meditation, and keep a gratitude journal to reduce negative thoughts. 

Focusing on self-care and creating a flexible plan for activities you might enjoy can help manage feelings of loneliness during Stampede. 

Managing Addictions and Impulsiveness 

Stampede can be challenging for those managing addictions or impulsive behaviors. The event’s excitement might trigger urges to indulge in unhealthy habits. 

For Addictions: 

  • Zoom Out: Consider the long-term impact of your choices. Ask yourself, “How will I feel about this decision 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years from now?” 
  • Be Kind to Yourself: Think about the advice you’d give a friend in your situation. You deserve to have a choice in how you enjoy Stampede. 
  • Plan Ahead: Decide what you want to be integral to and aim for a match between your values and how you spend your time during Stampede. 

For Impulsiveness: 

  • Identify Impulsive Behaviors: Reflect on when and where these behaviors occur. Understanding the context can generate awareness for when you’re at a heightened risk. 
  • Create a Plan: Develop a set plan for different actions you can take when faced with triggers. Involve trusted people who know your struggles and can support you when feeling vulnerable. 

Stampede can be a fun and exciting time, but it’s important to prioritize mental health and well-being. If you need support, Distress Centre Calgary is here to help: 

Thank you to our crisis counsellors, Alysha, Arya, Caleb and Chipo for providing information for this article.  

In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, Distress Centre Calgary would like to honour and acknowledge Moh’kinsstis, and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations – Indigenous and non – who live, work and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.