Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Countdown to Conference: Staying Healthy

A couple years ago I came home from conference looking and feeling like this. And since then I've tried to take steps to come home NOT looking like this. Well, I'll be exhausted but hopefully not sick.

So how do you mingle at close quarters with 2000 other writers and stay healthy?

~ Drink lots of water. This conference is pretty much at sea level, but some years back we were at about 4500 feet, and that can make a big difference in how your body behaves. Even though we don't have altitude to worry about this year, we'll have extreme heat. Orlando in July is like a steam bath. So drink lots of water and stay hydrated. A dehydrated body is more susceptible to germs. Dehydration can also give you a headache, and a crowded meeting room is the last place you want to have your head pounding. More than likely, every meeting room will have a water station in the back. If you like, you can carry an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it up from the drinking fountain on the other side. This way you can start drinking while you're in that pressurized cabin (which also causes dehydration) and get a head start.

~ Hand sanitizer. Need I say more? You can get it at the dollar store and while I don't suggest becoming Mr. Monk-ishly obsessive with it, it can help ward off nasty germs.



~ Be careful about your alcohol consumption. Sure, that cocktail tastes good and has a cute little umbrella in it. I'm not telling you not to drink. I'm just saying that alcohol acts as a diuretic, which dehydrates you. At our RWA meeting last month, etiquette expert Laura Bingham Ritch advised drinking a glass of water between cocktails to lessen the chance of getting plastered. I'm guessing it will help re-hydrate you.

~ Be careful about your caffeine consumption too. Caffeine is also a diuretic. And it can give you a right good buzz if you consume too much. We don't want you wide-eyed and dehydrated at 3 AM.

~ Try to eat well at the conference. I know. I'm dreaming the impossible dream. But go for protein over carbs if possible. Go for complex carbs over simple carbs (i.e. an apple instead of a cookie). That cookie will give you a quick sugar rush, but an apple will stick with you longer. And some cheese or yogurt is even better if it's available. I plan to tuck a box of Kashi bars in my suitcase for the inevitable mid-afternoon slump.

~ Schedule yourself some "down" time to de-stress. When you're out and about, you're ON and you need time to flip the switch to OFF for a while. Go back to your room and lie down. Or sit with a good friend in a corner of the lobby and take a load off your feet. You won't regret it.

~ If you're going to be outdoors in Orlando, remember my previous caution about water and also slather on some sunscreen. You don't want to have to fly back home with a nasty sunburn.

~ If you take any sort of prescription medications, be sure to carry them ON THE PLANE with you so you don't end up in Orlando while your meds end up in Boise. Also take along any over-the-counter medications you might need such as pain reliever, anti-diarrhea pills, antihistamines and/or decongestant, antacid, motion sickness, cortisone cream, antibiotic ointment, et cetera. One thing NOT to pack: your perfume. Many people are allergic plus a room with fifty different perfumes wafting about can get pretty noxious.

~ Plan ahead. This eliminates a lot of worry and stress, which are known to weaken your immune system. Look over the workshop offerings before you go to Orlando and make a list of those you want to attend. Add in any other scheduled meetings or appointments. I use a chart like the one below and fill it out before I leave home. Having my schedule on one page helps a lot.



You can design something for yourself in Word or Excel and eliminate schedule confusion before you go.

So what have I missed? What's your suggestion for staying healthy during the conference?

17 comments:

Cheryl said...

Dehydration can also leave to another, unpleasant side-effect...One thing I always carry is Phillips Milk of Magnesia tablets, in case. Travel does that to us old folks. LOL

Cheryl said...

oops again it can LEAD to another unpleasant side effect....

PJ said...

Great tips! My doctor gave me a tip a few years back for air travel and close crowds. Take a bottle of nasal saline spray and use several times a day. It helps a lot. I think you can get it in bottles less than 3 ounces but, if not, they should sell it at the hotel convenience store.

Hope to see you at the conference, Marilyn!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the great tips!
I came back from San Francisco sick as a dog. Maybe I can stay healthier this year by taking your advice!

Smarty Pants said...

I think everyone came home from San Francisco sick. I don't come home sick, usually, but I do come home feeling like the floorboard of an NYC taxi cab. As much as I schedule down time, try to eat well, drink water... its too much of an emotional overload. I come home exhausted and a touch discouraged. I guess that's different from most people who come back energized. Just me, I suppose.

Problem Child said...

I second that bottle of saline nose spray. And everyone knows I have hand sanitizer in my bag at all times.

But I'm not giving up caffeine and alcohol. Period. I'll just be sick when I get home.

Playground Monitor said...

Regarding caffeine and alcohol, it's about moderation, Grasshopper. Moderation. ;-)

Crystal said...

Ah, yes, moderation in all things...so I'm told... Alcohol obliteration would be bad. It would be my luck that's when opportunity would decide to knock. These are great tips!

Angel said...

I've never come home from conference sick, knock on wood, but maybe I'm just too exhausted to notice. :) Like SP, I'm a little overwhelmed when I get home, and it takes me a while to regain perspective. Again, probably an energy thing.

Must definitely remember hand sanitizer this year (which I admit I don't usually carry--it always smells bad). But with my new tattoo, I'm going to have to be careful about clean hands, which the artist specifically warned about (especially with our kids). It will be mostly healed by then, but I don't want to risk a last minute infection.

Angel

robertsonreads said...

You ladies have all this in hand. I very rarely travel, so I would be of no help to you. May you all have a safe and wonderful trip to Orlando.

Author said...

I've not come back sick, per se. I developed blisters. So a must for me is bandaids! Even shoes I thought wouldn't hurt me, did. Thanks for the awesome tips, Marilyn. Hope to see you!

Linda Winstead Jones said...

Great tips. I remember how long it took me to realize that drinking more caffeine than usual was what I was lucky to get 4 hours of sleep a night while at conference. I switch out a lot of coffee and tea for water, these days.

My big thing these days is protein! So often at conferences we end up with bagels or danish, crackers and chips, more desserts than we'd eat at home, maybe a quick sandwich. I've found I do much better when I get enough protein, which will mean eggs now and then, some skim milk, nuts. Too many carbs and not enough protein makes me drag, and since I usually come home dragging anyway . . .

Playground Monitor said...

Author, you need to try the Band-Aid Friction Blocker or Dr. Scholl's Blister Defense. My friends swear by it.

Angel said...

LJ, That's why I take my own snacks to conference (and skip the continental breakfast). This year I'm packing peanut butter, almonds, and some low-glycemic clif bars to have for breakfast and a pick-me-up during the afternoon... although I do admit to hitting the diet coke while I'm gone to help me function quicker in the mornings. :)

Angel

Liza said...

Angel, actual peanut butter won't make it on a carry on bag. Something about being able to make a bomb out of it since it is a liquid. I have granola bars for snacks and still need to pick up a couple of other things for snacks. Hand sanitizer is going on the list of things to buy this weekend.

Kathy said...

Great tips, PM! I see our minds think alike today. ;)

Moleskin is perfect for those aching feet. Don't leave home without it, me hearties!

Angel said...

I just pack all liquids, etc., in my suitcase. I don't like to have to pull all that stuff out. There aren't any restrictions for checking peanut butter in your suitcase.

I have to have the mojo bars, because regular granola bars have no protein. As a diabetic, I can't eat just the carbs. :) Hence the nuts and nut butter.

Angel