Self Care At Weekenders

Regardless of whether it’s your first weekender, or your twentieth, there’s bound to be some things you can do that will help you out for the long haul. Weekenders are often packed full of exciting stuff and it’s easy to neglect your basic needs in your search for more fun stuff and involvement. However your mind and body needs what it needs and if you neglect it too much, you could find yourself becoming more irritable and emotional.

NURTURING YOUR BODY

Sleep!  If you don’t get any sleep, you’ll be tired and grumpy and have an awfully hard time keeping up in fights, investigations and political scenes. Even if you handle exhaustion pretty well, if you get much less sleep than your normally should you’ll feel the pinch somewhere. Even if you don’t get much sleep, at least get a few hours. Three hours are better than none, after all.

If your game involves bunk beds, if you’re on a bottom bunk, it can sometimes help to put up a privacy screen in terms of a little sheet that you tuck under the top bunk.  Now snug in your little cave, you can sleep more cosily. Of course if you’re on the top bunk, well, you’re the king of the castle.  Take a few deep breaths and embrace it.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be too wired to settle down to sleep right away. Do a wind down activity before going to bed.  If you go immediately from exciting chatter to trying to sleep, you’ll get nowhere fast!  So take a shower (if available), or a short walk around the venue (if there’s no 2AM wandering monsters), or read a relaxing book for a little while before going to bed. 

Avoid your mobile phone screens when getting to bed!  Yes, I love them too, but the light they emit will make it harder to sleep.  You might put in some earphones and listen to some music on your phone, if you have one, but avoid looking at it.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have great difficulty getting to sleep, don’t despair!  Did you know there’s some benefit to just lying down and relaxing?  So give those aforementioned earphones a go, lie back and just try to relax.  Even if you can’t sleep, you’ll be in better nick than otherwise.

Eat!  Folks have a wonderful term for people who are so hungry they get irritable — Hangry!  Don’t inflict your game masters and fellow players with a hangry participant.  Grab a bite to eat.  If you truly can’t stomach breakfast, make a point to grab something a few hours later.  If you’re too excited to properly eat lunch, at least grab a snack.  And remember that sugary treats vanish fast, so a banana or an apple are a better substitute if you really must skip a meal!  It’s oh so easy to forget to eat in all the excitement, but honestly, it’s not worth the heart ache. Especially since it can be hard to tell if you’re hangry or have a just cause until after you’ve eaten.  So eat!

Drink!  A lot of players are more active during a weekender than they are at home, with lots of running about and getting things done.  Too many players aren’t very well hydrated in the first place (how many of you really drink at least 2 cups of water a day?) which means any extra exertion will take them to dehydration fast.  So I fully recommend getting your hydration up in the days leading up to game and then drinking at least a couple cups of water or cordial each day as well.  And no, while coffee is indeed better than nothing, it’s no replacement for a cup of pure water!

NURTURING YOUR HEART

Its natural to get excited about your weekender and many folks take great joy in considering all the possible antics they might get up to. However the truth is that nothing is a bundle of fun 24/7.  There will always be minor irritants, moments of boredom, and occasional disappointments.  And the more emotional you’re feeling, the more excited, the easier it is to either coast right past such minor worries … or crash right into them!  And it’s hard to know which way you’ll go until you get there.

So what to do?  You don’t want to nip your excitement in the bud, do you?  That would be awful!

Be mindful of your emotions.  Games can raises complicated feelings in folks, as everyone has a different play style and personal desires for what the game should be.  Even completely innocent misunderstandings can inflame old feelings or hurt old wounds.  If you do feel a painful emotion or memories arising, acknowledge it and the feeling it engenders as understandable. So what can you do when you’re experiencing bleed?

Try not to attribute hostile intent where there are logical alternatives. It can help to brainstorm other motivations that could be behind that behaviour. Sometimes it can be enough to take a few deep breaths and repeat to yourself: “That was then and this is now.”

Sometimes you might just feel poorly and not be able to shake it.  It can often help to talk to someone, especially if you’re feeling left out or shy.  Often Game Masters or experienced players can be happy to guide you back into game play or give you options and ideas.

Finally — you can always take a break!  Taking thirty minutes out of game to gather yourself before plunging back in can sometimes mean the difference between hours of irritation and hours of fun.  And sometimes the best way to treat strong feelings is a nap, for young or old! (Presuming you’re one of those lucky people who can nap without feeling like death warmed up!)

Anything else you’d recommend for folks at weekender LARPs?

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