If you’re getting ready for PAX West, Gen Con, Dragon Con or any other con this season, remember to take some time to consider how you’ll manage your self-care routine at the show. If you’re new to major conventions, it’s especially easy to let all your normal habits fall by the wayside, and while that can be tough on anyone, it’s especially challenging if some of those habits help keep your mental health in tip-top shape.
In general, healthy convention habits include getting enough sleep (yes, seriously – what you lose in hours, you’ll make back in enjoyment), staying well-fed and well-hydrated (bring a water bottle if the event allows it – I cannot stress enough how helpful it is to bring a water bottle), and remembering important stuff like showering and taking any medication you need.
One of Take This’ founders refers to something she calls “Everything is Awesome Syndrome”. We want to experience everything we can at a convention. We paid money to be there, after all. Some people actually feel a little guilty when they don’t get all they can out of the experience. That said, if we have to work too hard to see everything, it’s not fun. Plus, we can end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotional, which takes more time out of our con.
In physical activities, it’s better to stop for a little bit before you injure yourself instead of tearing something and being placed on forced rest for a long time. If you’re still following my logic, taking a little effort and time for self-care is obviously worth it, since it can help us maximize our enjoyment by preventing burn-out later. Cons are a marathon, not a sprint, so we have to find ways to pace ourselves and be healthy along the way.
If you think you might want a reminder, check out our ongoing Habitica challenge, Playing the Long Con. It’s all about ensuring that you take care of yourself enough to have a healthy, successful time at any conventions or busy multi-day events.
And of course, try to have fun! It’s all too easy to get caught up in anxiety and logistics when it comes time for a convention. Don’t worry about forcing yourself to get the absolute most out of the event (as we covered above, that’s a recipe for stress), but do try to give yourself the space you need to enjoy yourself.
Finally, if you need to take a break to regroup at any point (or at lots of points), remember: you’re not alone. Events like these can be a major struggle for many of us who deal with mental health issues – like me, for example – and you’re not letting anyone down or bothering anyone by taking the time you need. Everyone deserves to have a great time at conventions, and that includes you.