10 tips for staying healthy at Comic-Con

13 JULY 2016

Next week is going to be grueling - early mornings, late nights, long lines, and nefarious human germs lingering on every elevator button and exhibitor booth. (Sorry to be gross but it's true.) Obviously you want to keep yourself in prime physical condition, so I'm posting my usual advice on protecting yourself, mentally and physically.

#1. Take care of your feet.

You'll be walking a lot, which means you'll want to wear supportive footwear, bring moleskin and bandaids, and try not to do a lot of unnecessary walking. I wear high heels everywhere, but I still break out dorky supportive shoes for SDCC. It's so worth it. If your cosplay involves uncomfortable footwear, make sure you give yourself some downtime.
#2. Bring drugs.

Aspirin, ibuprofen and other painkillers can save your life at SDCC. If you're prone to headaches, the Exhibit Hall volume can do a number on your skull. Your plantar fasciitis can flare up or your hotel pillow can bother your neck. A slipped disc or bad knee can flare into a major issue at Comic-Con. And even if you aren't normally prone to such trouble, sitting or standing in line for long periods can be difficult. Lots of people are bringing small fold-up stools or even pillows to make their line waits more comfortable.

#3. Get assistance if you need it.

Don't make things harder on yourself than they have to be. CCI provides a wealth of resources to help out attendees who need it. This includes rest areas, private areas for nursing mothers, a first aid team, wheelchairs, ASL interpreters and special seating for large events. If you have mobility issues or any other circumstance that could benefit from a helping hand, go ahead and ask for it.

#4. Boost your immunity

If you're the first to catch colds and viruses, practice whatever faux-medical juju you normally do through echinacea, bee pollen, Emergen-C, a B-12 shot, etc. I've never gotten sick from the Con but other people swear that Con Crud is real. And you will be touching escalator railings, book covers, photo op props and other surfaces recently contaminated by dozens or hundreds of others.

#5. Eat well.

Some people like to eat lightly at SDCC; others feel powered by eating luxurious monster meals. In general, try to eat well. Don't skip a lot of meals. Don't live off a box of pop-tarts in your room. You're going to undergo a physically draining and sometimes emotionally frustrating experience, so set yourself up to be energized and in a good mood. I eat a lavish breakfast every morning, carry apples with me into the Con, and make time for a good meal at night, no matter what. But everyone has their tricks.

#6. Stay hydrated.
Con-going is thirsty work. And buying bottled water on site adds up fast. Bring enough water to get you through the lines and the exertion. As a hiker I follow the "If you're halfway through your water, you're halfway through your hike" rule; consider the same for SDCC and monitor how fast your water goes your first day. You'll understand how much more you need the next day.

#7. Be moderate in your debauchery.

Obviously people like to party at SDCC. For every "official" party you see listed, there are hundreds of private hotel room parties, unadvertised shows and underground events and bar crawls between friends. But if you're serious about getting in a full Con, I'd caution against overindulging. Even if you can pull off all-nighters at home without feeling much pain, SDCC is a much more demanding experience. You'll be irritable and tired and probably wind up collapsing at some point. I've talked before about the year a friend was so hungover we missed all of Sunday, and another time a friend's friend got so high that he got lost and we were looking for him until 3 a.m. It's just not worth it. Save your chemical excesses for home so you can enjoy the Con to the fullest.

#8. Prepare mental and emotional resources.

Maybe you're sensitive to crowds and noise. Maybe you're traveling in a group with someone whose every word is irritating you. Or maybe the Con isn't at all what you expected and you're on the verge of tears for multiple reasons. Make sure you have friends back home you can call and unload on. If you're in therapeutic care and you think the Con might push your buttons, see ahead of time if you can call your therapist. Bring any meds you need. Look up nearby meetings if you're in recovery. Comic-Con can be stressful for everyone and there is no shame in getting some help if you find yourself struggling.

#9. Take breaks.

Often you don't realize how tired or numbed out you are until it's too late. It's always a good idea to cut yourself off from the chaos for a bit. Go hang out in the dark Playback Room at and just isolate for an hour or two. Go swimming. Tell your friends you need some time alone and ask everyone to let you have the hotel room to yourself for a bit. And if you've got some cash to burn, schedule a massage - it'll be like the heavens opened up and poured relief down upon your stiff Comic-Con muscles.

#10. Get your rest.

When I first started going to SDCC, Younger Me would have various escapades all night, return home around 4, sleep for 3 hours and bounce out of bed ready for the day. And even then, it caught up with me. Now I make a point to be in bed no later than midnight or 1 a.m. If I'm going to be out super late, I nap first. Obviously this depends on why you're at the Con - if you're there to carouse all night, have at it. But if you're there to actually do panels and compete in gaming tournaments and explore the activities, you'll want to be fairly peppy.

And that's my wellness advice. If you've never been to San Diego Comic-Con before, you might think I'm exaggerating the demands it puts on you. But for those attendees who like to live the Con to the fullest, being in top shape isn't just important, it's required. I know you want to have a magical time next week. Take care of yourself and you probably will.

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