How to Avoid Con Crud
Con crud…the dreaded sickness that can strike during or post convention. Sometimes there’s just no avoiding it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood it won’t get you.
I’d recommend the following scientifically-backed actions on an everyday basis for staying healthy in general, but they’re especially important if you plan on being in a new place surrounded by lots of new people e.g. a convention. Keep reading to learn how to stay health before, during, and after a convention.
You may be thinking, ‘well, duh!’ but it’s actually surprising how many people don’t get enough sleep. Studies show that a lack of sleep can negatively affect your immune system. Adults who don’t get a full 7-8 hours of good sleep (9-10 for teenagers) are more likely to catch viruses they’re exposed to. They are also more likely stay sick for longer if they catch something.
I know a full 7-8 hours of quality sleep can be difficult for many busy adults, but strive to meet this goal as much as possible, especially in the weeks leading up to a con. To help improve your quality of sleep, work towards keeping the same sleep schedule every day, even on weekends.
Avoid electronic use within an hour or 2 of bed. The blue light that they emit can suppress the release of melatonin which negatively affects your natural circadian rhythm. Instead, try to enjoy a relaxing activity prior to sleep to help you feel more calm and less stressed (FYI, stress can lead to a compromised immune system too) -such as a bath, reading, yoga, or listening to music. Of course, be sure to turn off all notification based devices so they aren’t beeping or vibrating throughout the night.
2. Hand Hygiene
There’s a reason you’ve been told over and over in your life that you should consistently wash your hands. This is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. It’s especially important after you’ve used the restroom, coughed or sneezed, and before you eat.
Hand washing does not mean getting your hands wet, adding a little bit of soap, and then drying them off. It means wetting your hands, lathering them with soap, scrubbing for 20 seconds (sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself twice) being sure to get the backs of your hands, in between you fingers, and around the nail beds, rinsing well, and then drying off with a clean towel.
For when you don’t have easy access to a restroom at the convention, carry around a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Also, try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, which are easy portals for germs to enter your body.
3. Stay at Home if You’re Sick
Yes, I know this one is a big bummer, but come on! People should avoid others who are sick to help prevent themselves from getting sick. If you show up already sick to a convention, it becomes impossible for people to avoid you given the crowds and often small spaces. Please do your part to stop the spread.
Always cover sneezes and coughs. If you don’t have a tissue handy, do so into your elbow. Also, rather than shake people’s hands, offer a fist bump instead, which limits contact while remaining friendly.
4. Healthy Lifestyle
Scientists are still researching the direct effect that things like exercise and food play on the immune system. Despite that, they do agree that a healthy diet and exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore indirectly to a healthy immune system.
This means you should drink alcohol in moderation, eat a balanced diet that’s high in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and not smoke. Your primary doctor can help you define each of these levels for your personal situation.
Keep these same items in mind over a con weekend too. Plan ahead and pack healthy snacks and breakfasts to avoid only having access to greasy con food. Things like bananas and oatmeal are easy choices. Also limit your alcohol intake. A recent study found that a single binge can reduce your ability to fight off infections for up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
5. Drink Water
I could write a paper on the benefits of water, but let’s keep this on the short and sweet side. Water is great for you body! It helps with proper digestion and aids in quality sleep. Being properly hydrated helps your body create natural levels of saliva and mucus -some of your body’s first defenders when it comes to germs entering the body.
Dehydration leads to a number of un-fun things including headaches. One of the last things you want at a convention is a bad headache, so drink up! Pack a reusable water bottle that you can carry with at all times.
With all that being said, I hope you have a happy and healthy con season!
Which convention(s) are on your schedule this year? Let me know in the comments below.