Staying healthy at Comic-Con

13 JULY 2018

It's the last weekend before Comic-Con. And for many of us, it's our last chance to rest up before the madness starts. Come Wednesday, we'll be staying out very late, getting up very early or not going to bed at all. We'll eat too much bar food, drink not enough water, sit for hours in uncomfortable chairs and stand for hours in tedious lines.  We'll sleep on hotel room floors and slowly leaking air mattresses. And sticking to us at every opportunity will be the germs of thousands of strangers.

Which means you want to stay healthy, right? Or at least keep your engine running long enough to get through Sunday. So here are a few ways you can preserve yourself. First-timers, this is no joke.

#1. Relax this weekend. 

Sleep, lay around, be lazy, get a good massage. If you're already burned out or overworked or you're recovering from a recent surgery or illness, you really need to rest up or SDCC will hit you like a truck.

#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 bring them flaring to life. Your plantar fasciitis can come back or your hotel pillow can bother your neck. A slipped disc or bad knee can get irritated. If traveling and restaurant meals typically upset your digestion, bring something for that too. And if you plan on partying hard, you really need to bring a cure. You won't be able to hide away somewhere and turn off humanity like you can at home when you're hungover.

#3. Bring physical supports.

If you've had any kind of recent trouble like a sprained ankle, pulled muscle or an injured shoulder, I would recommend bringing any wraps, braces and muscle ointment you can. Sitting or standing in line for long periods can be difficult. Lots of people bring small fold-up stools or even air hammocks to make their line waits more comfortable.

#4. Get assistance if you need it.

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.

#5. Boost your immunity.

If you pick up colds and viruses easily, practice whatever faux-medical juju you normally do, like echinacea, bee pollen, Emergen-C, a B-12 shot, etc. I've never gotten sick from the Con but other people swear that Con Flu 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. I'm sorry to keep harping on that but I feel like people are so dazzled by the Con that they forget what an infection factory it can be.

#6. Eat well.

Some people like to eat lightly at SDCC; others feel powered by eating luxurious monster meals. Try to eat healthy and don't skip a lot of meals. Don't live off a box of donuts in your room or the stale snacks served up in hospitality rooms. SDCC can be physically tiring and emotionally frustrating, so set yourself up to be energized and in a good mood. I eat a lavish breakfast every morning and carry apples everywhere because you never know when you might have to skip lunch to hold your spot in line, or your friends delay dinner because they are still in Hall H.

#7. 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 and the same holds for SDCC. Keep yourself hydrated, especially if you plan on standing in any lines at all, or you could run into trouble.

#8. Don't overdo the hedonism.

I mean, if you're there solely to obliterate yourself, go ahead. But if you're going to SDCC to actually do the panels and hunt exclusives and back issues and take in the offsites, I'd practice moderation. 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 wind up wasting your day in a nap. And you don't want to be a burden on your friends; 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 wound up lost and we were looking for him until 3 a.m. No one wants to babysit you at Comic-Con.

#9. Prepare mental and emotional resources.

Maybe you're sensitive to crowds and noise. Maybe your roommate's 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 whatever reason. If you're prone to these kind of reactions, make sure you have someone 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. I know this all sounds very dramatic but I've seen attendees burst into tears or get into vicious fights with close friends where they had to change hotel rooms. Get help if you need it.

#10. Take breaks

If you start feeling exhausted or it's just stopped being fun, cut yourself off from the chaos for a bit. Go hang out in a dark room watching anime for a few hours or go swimming. Ask everyone to let you have the hotel room to yourself for a bit. Sometimes it's just too much humanity for too many days in a row.

#11. Get your sleep.

If you're prone to insomnia, do whatever you can (white noise, sleep masks, lavender oil, melatonin, whatever works) to make sure you sleep through the night. Maybe you're one of those people that doesn't need much sleep; but most of us will feel any severe sleep deprivation hit hard at SDCC after a day. At least take a disco nap before you go out.

Enjoy your weekend. Make it a leisurely one.

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