How to Transition from Burning Man Back to the Default World

When You Still Yearn for the Burn

A fire spinner at Burning Man.
•••   KARRASTOCK / Getty Images 

Burning Man Caravansary took place during the final week of August this year (as it does every year). It was full of amazing art installations, beautiful music, beautiful people, and was generally a mind-blowing parallel universe. It's no wonder it's so hard to leave such a wonderful place behind. 

Post-Playa depression is a real thing, and it's entirely normal to suffer from it upon returning to the "default world" after a wonderful week in Black Rock City.

 

After my first burn three years ago, I handled it pretty well. I felt like I had seen a lot and met some really great people. The second year, for some reason, every time I saw anything Burning Man-related, I wanted to cry (and sometimes I actually did). I couldn't handle it without becoming an emotional wreck. This year after my third burn, I'm somewhere in between the two extremes. 

So what are the steps those of us with post-Burning Man blues can take in order to combat the feeling of missing "home"? Here are 5 suggestions to adjust back to the default world:

Know that You Had a Great Burn

Part of the reason why you are feeling so down is probably because you enjoyed your burn so much that you're having a hard time coping with the fact that it's over. You probably met amazing people and saw amazing things that simply don't seem to exist in the real world. At the same time, you probably feel like you missed out on a lot and wish you could have had more time to experience it all.

 

I tend to get intense feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) during most festivals, but Burning Man is by far the worst. There's so much going on everywhere, all the time, that it's impossible to feel as though I've seen and done it all. 

The only way to combat these feelings is to accept that you did exactly what you wanted and needed to do in each moment.

That means you did experience the festival to the fullest for you, personally. That's the true nature and spirit of Burning Man, after all. 

Take Care of Yourself

If you can manage to take more time off of work to catch up on sleep, do so. If you are a yogi, do some yoga. No matter what your normal routine, try to infuse some exercise or other endorphin-inducing activities into it. 

Whatever you do, don't continue the party. Your body and brain need rest. Honor your body, take a nice long shower, and eat all the fresh greens you didn't get while on the playa. Enjoy the bounty of the default world. 

Find a Burner Community

There are communities of burners in just about every major city in the world. Search Google and/or Facebook groups to see what might be available near you.

Connecting with like-minded individuals is a great way to keep the good feelings of your burn alive. 

Attend a Decompression Event

Many major cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and ​many more have after burn events a few months after the Burn ends. These are called Decompression and the Burning Man website has compiled a list of events happening around the world. 

There are spin off festivals such as AfrikaBurn, Nowhere, and Fusion Festival as well.

 

Incorporate Elements of the Playa into Daily Life

What is it that you enjoyed at Burning Man? Was it the music? Listen to more music that you loved, and attend more live shows. Did you love the spiritual aspect? Make time for it in your daily life. Did you love the personal connections? Seek them out more, especially within an aforementioned burner community. 

Most of all, appreciate and acknowledge the amazing time you had, and gear up for the next burn!