With U-Con immediately following the summer convention season, many of those attending may have had recent and harrowing interactions with the vicious (and viscous) plague known as the Con Crud. Because we like you and want you to remain healthy – and because we want to remain healthy ourselves – we would like to share the following advice for maintaining your health during the convention:
1. Sanitize. Hand sanitizer isn’t 100% effective, but there is a truckload of evidence that it does prevent the spread of disease, both to you and to the next person you shake hands with. While an excellent stopgap measure, sanitizer isn’t everything. The absolute best way to stop the contraction and spread of disease is to wash your hands. All the time. Every time you eat. Every time you use the restroom. Every time you have a break in game play or between a slot. Much like gnomes, the only way to stop the germs from spreading is to kill them, as frequently as possible.
2. Eat, sleep, and shower. Your body is designed to deal with illness. The human immune system is an incredibly effective machine when it comes to destroying invaders – but it can only be effective if it’s properly cared for. It needs fuel, downtime, and maintenance. For proper fueling, you should be eating at least two meals a day, and if you want to be really on top of your game, at least one of those meals should be breakfast. If you don’t have time for breakfast, either because you want that extra half hour of sleep or because oversleeping is a thing, pack your gaming bag with granola bars or the like to give yourself something to eat early on or if you start to drag during that early slot.
Downtime is also required in the form of sleep. A number of convention tip blogs try to assign a particular number to how much you should be sleeping, but to be honest, the amount of sleep each person needs is variable. Instead, you should base the amount of convention sleep on the amount of sleep you usually get. At an absolute minimum, you should get the same amount of sleep that you get on a “well-rested” work night. If you are going to spend more hours per day at the convention than you normally would at your job during a full work day, you should add an hour or so to that amount. If you plan on playing Werewolf all night regardless of this advice, at least don’t schedule anything in the morning that you can’t miss so that you can sleep in if you feel you need to.
Lastly, properly maintain your hygiene while you’re at the convention. This includes showering at least once a day, brushing your teeth, and sanitizing as described above. Our immune systems can work far more effectively if we help them out by reducing the amount of invaders going into the system – not to mention the “refreshing” feeling that typically accompanies these activities.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This means water, folks. I know that the Mountain Dew is tastier and keeps you awake, and I’ve been there – being alert makes you a more engaged player or DM. But. You’re likely going to be using your voice a lot more during the convention than you will during a normal weekend, and nothing – and I mean nothing – is better for maintaining your voice for three straight days of talking than water. If water is a taste issue for you, adding Crystal Light or the like to it isn’t terrible. Anything with sugar, caffeine, or carbonation is bad, though, so watch out for your sodas, coffee, and even lemonade. If you feel strained or phlegmy, go for straight water and nothing else. How much is enough? The most intense of professional voice users, opera singers, have a saying: “pee clear, sing pure”. That’s not how I’d phrase it, but my answer would be, “lots”.
4. If you feel sick, take a slot off. I know you paid good money for this convention and each event, but a slot where you’re sick is wasted money, and you’re likely to spread your plague like a geeky Typhoid Mary. A couple extra hours of sleep is better for your health and everyone’s enjoyment of the rest of the convention.
5. If you are a DM or gamemaster, you also want to take extra care of your voice. This includes, but is not limited to: setting yourself up at your table so that you are facing a wall, avoiding high-noise areas as much as possible, staying away from using squeaky or affected voices, and carrying water with you at all times.
TL;DR – Keep your hands sanitized, stay fed and rested, drink lots of water, take a slot off if you feel sick, and take care of your voice.