5 Ways To Stay Healthy At A Long Arts & Crafts Show

Keep Your Body Refreshed While Working Long Hours

My longest craft show of the year is the One of a Kind Show & Sale Chicago each December. The show is open to the public for three 9-hour days followed by a 7-hour day.  This doesn’t include prep time and close-down time. And there is definitely prep that needs to happen for jewelers each morning; it’s amazing how dusty the displays get by Day 2!

In 2011, by the end of the show, I had shooting pains up and down my neck and felt really dehydrated and weak.  I vowed to make 2012 better, and am happy to report that I succeeded!  I’d like to share some of what worked for me, in case any of these tidbits will help you have a more enjoyable show experience.

1 – Wear comfortable shoes (with insoles), or remove your shoes altogether.

comfy socks to wear in a show booth

When prepping for the show, I told my assistant April to make sure to wear comfortable shoes.  “Actually,” April said, “If it’s cool with you, I might leave my shoes off from time to time. I’m often more comfortable without shoes, than with them” Not only was it cool with me, I thought it was pretty brilliant!

I too prefer going shoe-less. As soon as I get home, I cannot wait to take off my shoes! I usually don’t wear uncomfortable or restrictive shoes … but my life is just so much better sans shoe!

So taking a cue from April, I decided to bring a pair of cushy socks that I could don during most of the show. I knew I could always put my sneakers back on if my feet started to hurt. I am happy to report that my feet and calves have never felt better during a show!  Yay! I loved that I could occasionally stand on my tippee-toes or point my feet to fully stretch them out.

Admittedly this won’t work so well if you are at an outdoor show, especially if it is a muddy one. However, that might be the perfect setting to use Barefoot Shoes – which I may even try myself at my next indoor show. Or, add some cushioning in the form of a foot pad inside your shoe (this can also work well at shows that have concrete floors).


2 – Do a restorative post with your feet up for 10-15 minutes each Lying on floor with legs at 90 degrees to refresh and rejuvenatenight

A massage therapist recommended that each night when I got home, I should do a “grounding pose”.  Specifically, she suggested the 90/90 Rest position (see more below). Admittedly, this can be difficult to commit to, especially if you just want to go to bed.  However, on the first night, I found that just 10 minutes in this position made it easier for me to later get into a comfy position in my bed and fall asleep.  So it was easier to do on subsequent evenings, because I knew I would feel the benefit almost immediately.

Static Back or the 90/90 Rest position:
This pose is billed as the world’s easiest postural restoration exercise. It goes by many names, including 90-90 position, constructive rest, static back, and others. This position puts the low back in the position of least load on the discs and the joints.

  1. 1. Lie on ground
  2. 2.Put feet up (on an ottoman, chair, coffee table, significant other, etc.)
  3. 3. Make sure your hips and knees are at 90-degree angles
  4. 4, Relax your arms out to the side at a comfortable distance from the body and roll the palms up.
  5. 5. In this position breathe into your abdomen allowing the belly to rise when you inhale.  Breathe out slowly  and feel your lower back relax  into the ground.  If your head is tipping back, place a hand towel under the back of your head in order to give it support and a neutral position.
  6. 6. Continue breathing, enjoying the moment, and relaxing.

Aim for 15-20 minutes per session, or at the very least 10 minutes. (10 minutes is better than zero minutes!) I also use this time for meditation. I sometimes listen to soothing music and try to focus on my breathing, or I do one of my the guided meditations that I’ve bookmarked, particularly ones to encourage sound sleeping. (You’d think I’d sleep well on show days, but sometimes I am so wired and plagued with thoughts of everything I want to do during set-up the next day, that it is difficult to sleep. Mediating helps tremendously.)

In addition to the grounding pose each evening, I wanted to get in some stretching throughout the day. My goal was to do some at the start of each day, midday, and right after teardown.  Unfortunately, I never remembered. So for next year, I am going to make a little sign for myself, or set a reminder on my phone. Even just 2 minutes of stretching is better than no stretching at all!  And who knows, maybe I can connect with other vendors who do yoga, and we can do a sun salutation in the morning. It always helps me stay motivated when there are others doing this with me.

3 -Prep lots of healthy food to eat/juice for dinner
veggies/fruit ahead of time for juicing

freshly made juice

OK, the glass is impractical for a show. But the juice is delicious — freshly juiced beets, beet greens, carrots, oranges and ginger. I don’t even like beets, but they taste just fine when mixed with oranges and ginger!

Most show venues aren’t known for healthy food. I’ve been bringing my own food to venues forever because I am a picky eater, and I also stick to mostly an anti-inflammatory diet. Granola bars are a staple for me at shows, but I also bring a few other items when I can. I also try to bring ample amounts of protein, as that keeps me sated far longer than carbs do.

Some of my favorites:

  • in a small tupperware: 1/2 C oats with dried cherries/raisins + a 1/2 cut-up apple. Add water and stir (or shake) just before serving. (Sure, the apple usually doesn’t look awesome by the time I eat it, but it keeps fairly well and tastes fine for several hours). Don’t forget a spoon!
  • nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc. You may wish to measure out serving sizes in small baggies, or put them in a pill/vitamin storage device. It is easy (for me at least) to eat much more than a serving if I am not paying attention.
  • veggies & hummus (The hummus will remain edible for a few hours without refrigeration.  If you put baby carrots in the freezer the night before, and take them out when going to the show, they’ll be thawed, but still slightly chilly a few hours into your show.
  • healthy crackers
  • Fresh veggie/fruit juice! Sadly fresh juice begins to lose nutrients almost immediately, but it’s still better than soda!  If you can make or bring juice, I highly recommend it.
  • LOTS of water!!!

When I attend shows away from home, I try to stay in a hotel that offers refrigerators. (Some hotels require that you ask for one in your room, and some charge an additional fee.) I look for the closest grocery store–sometimes that means Target!–and stock up on a few items, including things to make my own salad.

Insulated cooler bags help keep refrigerated items cool. I don’t use them because I like things room temperature, but if you want to make sure your stuff stays cold, try bringing your food in an insulated bag.

4 -Do not slip into the “just one more customer, then I’ll eat” trap

I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Each year, I have to plan my breaks in ahead of time, because if I don’t, I will never leave the booth and will always find an excuse to talk to customers instead of taking care of my needs.  I should know by now, that if I don’t eat when I should, I’ll get a headache, yet somehow, it is too easy to keep postponing so that I’ll be here “when the next big sale happens” or “just in case someone needs me.”

So yes, I have to schedule in breaks, and even if I can’t leave right then and there because I am in the middle of helping someone, I at least know I’ll be able to leave right afterward. I arrange for a helper to take over during my lunch break, so that I can eat away from the booth, which not only gives me a few minutes of R&R, but also means that customers don’t see me stuffing my face. :-)

If you do not have a helper, then it is even more important to make sure you have lots of bite-size snacks that you can graze on throughout the day.


 5 – have a massage all ready to go the day after the show!

Rebeca is a regular client of Janna of To the Point Myotherapy (pictured) for trigger point work. http://tothepointmyotherapy.com/

I am a regular client of Janna Lombardo (pictured), founder of To the Point Myotherapy for trigger point work. http://tothepointmyotherapy.com/

Yes, you’ve earned it!

When I had the shooting pains up and down my neck, I knew that couldn’t be good for me, and so I called to schedule a massage appointment. They were already booked, so I couldn’t get in for a couple of days. Lesson learned. Now, I book the massage in advance, so I know it is waiting for me at the end of the show.

Some people consider massages to be luxuries, but for me–someone who works with my hands and puts certain parts of my body through a lot of stress–they are a necessity. Various studies have also shown massages to be helpful in improving a wide variety of medical conditions.

It is unfortunate that massages aren’t yet considered valid preventative medicine and therefore aren’t covered by insurance. However, I look at it as an investment: by taking care of my body in as many ways as I can know, perhaps I will be healthier as I age and require fewer treatments then, thereby saving money in the long-term.

Additionally, I rarely take time out to pamper myself, so this is a nice moment for me to acknowledge my body for all I’ve put it through and to thank it for serving me so well all these decades.


Have a great hint that I didn’t mention? Share it in the comments below! It’s great to learn what works in different parts of the country and the world :)

This article is part of Blue Buddha’s series: Behind the Scenes at a Craft Fair.

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