Self Care for ‘Con-Goers

Mr CK and I are off to a kinky Convention for the weekend tomorrow, so it seemed like a good time to revisit this piece I wrote last year on taking care of yourself at a Con(vention/ference,) update it with some new things I’ve learned and share it with y’all.

A white cat with black patches on its face sleeping upside down in a patch of sunlight looking blissed out. For a post on con self-care
Kitty says: take a fucking nap!

‘Cons can be an intense time, as anyone who has been to one will know. All the fun things to see, do and learn, plus the late nights and the heady feeling of being among Your People can be quite a potent cocktail. (And that’s before you mix in a few actual cocktails, which many of us do partake of when at events.)

Things can also go from “Awesome” to “Burnout” really fast, and I’ve been doing this long enough now to learn a few tricks to come out the other side still physically and emotionally intact. Follow these seven easy steps for your best ‘Con ever.

1. Biology Comes First

Sleep. If you know you need six hours of sleep to not be a walking zombie, don’t try to get by on three. Take a freaking nap if you need to.

Eat. A lot of events provide food, so you really have no excuse – but even if food isn’t laid on there’s bound to be a lunch hour. Don’t forget to make time to have dinner between the day’s activities and the evening entertainments. Carry snack bars, nuts, fruit or chocolate in your bag for a quick pick-me-up. And for the love of all that is kinky, eat breakfast.

Hydrate. Beer doesn’t count. This is especially important in the hot weather we’ve been having lately!

Carry any medication you need or think you’re likely to need (more on this in point 5.) Find out who the First Aiders are and who to go to if you need urgent medical help. In an emergency, any passerby can run for help for you.

In short, take care of your body and your physical wellbeing first. The rest will follow.

2. You Don’t Have To Do Everything

You know how it’s better to leave a really awesome scene going, “wow, I would have loved to go further!” rather than, “holy shit, I went too far?”

‘Cons are the same.

You do not have to go to Every Single Session. Promise! You do not have to scene with every hot person you meet. If you’re there with a partner, you do not have to do every single scene idea you’ve ever come up with or try every single piece of kit the venue has to offer. You do not have to be the first to arrive and last to leave each day.

There’s always other events. There’s always next year.

By all means, immerse yourself and experience your event to the max… but know your limits and don’t try to push yourself beyond them in service of “Must Do Everything.”

3. Have Someone Looking Out For You… And Look Out For Them In Turn

If you’ve come with a partner, partners, friend or group of friends, you’re in luck here as you’ve got a ready made support person/network. Look out for each other. You don’t have to be glued to one another’s sides, but check in and say, ‘hey, how are you doing? How are you finding it all?’

If someone’s struggling, ask what they need. It may be a hug, a snack, a chat about what’s bothering them, a nap, or even just some quiet time. If you’re struggling, ask for what you need.

If you’re there alone, never fear! You’ll soon make friends and if you click with someone, don’t be afraid to ask if they’d like to agree to look out for each other and maybe check in later to see how you’re both doing.

If nothing else, make yourself known to an organiser or crew member as a nervous newbie and/or solo attendee. Any good event staff member will help you find your feet and look out for you as best they can.

4. Think About Your Boundaries Before You Come

You know how you shouldn’t renegotiate established boundaries mid-scene? The same is true mid-‘Con.

If you’re coming with a partner, discuss beforehand the kinds of play you might like to do together and anything you definitely DON’T want. Is play with other people on the cards or not? Under what parameters? Are you going to do everything together, or go to separate workshops and compare notes later? You don’t need to structure your weekend super rigidly, but even a basic game plan can help you feel prepared.

If you’re coming alone, think about what you might want to do and not do. What workshops interest you and which are a “FUCK NO?” Which are a “maybe, if I’m in the right headspace?” Do you want to play? With specific people? Are you open to casual play? Casual sex? Nudity? Hugs, physical touch?

And, crucially, stick to these boundaries. Don’t suddenly change your mind in the heat of a moment that you could very easily regret. Again, you can always push yourself further next time.

Honour your own limits the way I hope you’d honour anyone else’s.

5. Carry The Things You Need (Or Might Need)

Bottled water or sports drink? Healthy or sugary snacks? Medication? Simple painkillers in case of a headache? Notebook and pen for journalling? Cuddly toy or other comfort item? Favourite blanket?

Whatever it is, if you know you will need it or feel safer or more comfortable having it on hand… have it on hand! Or at least know where it is and how to instruct someone on where to find it.

6. Have An Aftercare Plan

‘Con drop is real, y’all. When you get back from a fantastic, physically and emotionally intense time, you’re likely to feel tired, drained and possibly even a bit fragile.

Just like you’d make aftercare provisions for a big scene, do the same thing for the ‘Con.

I always take the Monday following a weekend event off work – I know there’s no way I can be fully functional again so quickly and my job requires me to be on top of my game. I typically sleep late, take it easy and possibly do some nice or fun things for myself and my partner.

If you can, don’t be alone straight after the event. Try to be with a friend or partner who understands and with whom you can decompress and talk about your experiences. If you must be alone, reach out on FetLife or Twitter as it’s very likely others will be experiencing the same things.

Eat nice food, cuddle your partner/friend/pet/stuffed toy, have fun things on hand that you enjoy doing. Relax.

7. And finally… HAVE FUN.

Try not to worry – everyone’s at a ‘Con to have a great time and the organisers and crew should be on hand to help with any problems you may have.

Breathe, pace yourself, and ENJOY.

Go forth and be kinky, y’all.

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