With the Golden Crown Literary Society Conference coming up soon, it’s important to remember that in the midst of all of the excitement and fun, taking time out for self care is crucial. At my first con, I stayed up all day, all night, and most of the next day to travel to the conference. Running on excitement, I hung out with my friends, met new friends, did all of the things, and the next day woke up with a migraine so bad, I had to skip the first two meetings of the day. I went to my panel, but I was in misery and ended up leaving fifteen minutes early to go throw up in the bathroom.I made a pact to never let that happen again.
After that experience, I realized the only way to survive these amazing gatherings where everyone is excited and everyone is busy and no one gets enough sleep is to practice as much self care as I possibly can. These are the tips I’ve picked up along the way.
1. Hydrate. Seriously. Start before the conference and make it a habit. Dehydration contributes to exhaustion, constipation, headaches, dizziness. Nothing you want to experience when you’re trying to have a great time at con. So drink your water.
2. Food. Sometimes we get busy and forget to eat. Make a habit of getting breakfast. If you have a mini fridge in your room, stock it with some healthy snacks, fruits, yogurt, whatever food helps to sustain you. Grabbing something, even on the go, is better than skipping it altogether. Also, a couple of plastic baggies filled with homemade trail mix is a good thing to carry with you for some high energy food between meals. Make sure to include some tree nuts in your trail mix.
3. Sleep. It’s hard not to be excited when everyone is having a great time. We’re going to be in a fun city, we’re surrounded by hundreds of amazing, vibrant women, we’re privy to some incredible talks and panels by some of the best authors in lesbian fiction, and we have parties and dinners, and events. It can be hard to get enough sleep. Try to make sure to schedule at least a couple of nights getting back to your room in time to get a decent night sleep. If your brain is overactive when you lie in bed, try just closing your eyes, focusing on your breath, and letting your thoughts drift.
4. Private time. I want to do all of the things with all of the people all of the time! But me time is important and if you don’t try to take at least a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle, you can burn out. I try to look at the day’s schedule and see if there are any small breaks in the day where I can actually schedule some alone time, even if it means nipping back to my room for ten minutes to meditate. For me, finding time to settle my mind is important because I need to recharge so I can bust back out with my high energy socialization.
5. Ask for help if you need it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please find a board member and ask for help. We’re there to make sure you have the most incredible con experience.
6. Don’t assume that everyone knows each other and you’re the only one who feels left out. There are times when everyone feels a little lonely in big gatherings. Sometimes it seems as if there are groups of dear friends and they all have known each other for years and you don’t want to interrupt. Most of the time, when you see a group of people laughing together at a table, they’ve all just say there together by accident. If you’re feeling nervous about sitting with a group, just remind yourself that everyone at the conference is there to support and promote lesbian literature. Spot an empty seat at a lunch table and say, “May I sit here?” It’s a great way to meet new friends. If it is your first con, come to the con virgins meeting! That’s a low key way to get to know a smaller group before the big crowds descend.
7. Enjoy. There is so much to do at the con. You will not be able to do it all. Just relax, enjoy, and remember that if you miss a panel you really wanted to see because of the master class that you really wanted to attend, you’ll just have to come back next year and get a whole new selection of great activities.