How to Stay Sane and Healthy at a Big Capoeira Event

  • Earplugs (foam or silicone)! Rodas and percussion classes are insanely noisy and can be stressful after a while, even if you don’t notice the effect for a long time, and keeping part of the loudness away can reduce the overall stress level by a lot! I even wore them during a few of the classes towards the end of the workshop this year, and it helped me to focus on the movements despite being tired and recovering from a headache. Also, think of your kids. I felt sorry for some of the toddlers being carried close to a roda with a bateria that was so load that even with earplugs I thought it was too loud. I might be more sensitive than the average adult, but kids have very, very sensitive ears. Protect them or at least limit their time next to the noise. (Earplugs are good for the workshop party and public transport, too.)
  • Pack/plan your meals in advance. This year I packed almost identical lunchboxes for all days, but you can do as you please concerning variety. Use foods you know you can eat without feeling full or sick during training (e.g. I know I have to avoid dairy and meat before intense trainings). I packed salted nuts, dried banana chips, fresh bananas, hardboiled eggs, cereal bars, muffins, dark chocolate, and some gummy candy (great to chew on when things get stressful or your blood level crushes). In addition I had smoothies for the morning with me – plan carefully which foods have to be consumed before they are out in the warm gym hall for too long!
  • Take some time off around the event, if possible. This year I used vacation time for the first day of the event (even though it only started in the evening) and for today, which is the day after four days of capoeira madness. Best decision ever. Use the time to buy favourite workshop food, take a nap, stretch, look at the photos and others you took, put your feet up …
  • Be aware of your needs. Go outside when you need fresh air or some quiet, take a nap on a mat, hug your friends, say no to tasks you can’t perform without your stress level skyrocketing. Sleep in. Leave early if you don’t feel well or need some people-free time. Skip a class to practise on your own.
  • If you want or have to help with the event, look for tasks that suit you. I prefer documenting the event with my camera, collecting dirty mugs and dry bottles, and helping with some small things when I have time over tasks that involve a lot of people stuff like check-in. If you like to drive a car, you can pick up people and do grocery shopping, if you like caring for people you can prepare breakfast, if you are strong or have energy left over after the event you can carry around heavy stuff or clean  … find your niche. This year I wanted to help with the final cleanup, but I was so exhausted I would not have been of any use, so I excused myself and started going through my pictures, which was accepted by the others far better than expected.
  • Bring a small towel or washcloth to refresh your face or whatever body parts feel sticky and annoying in the middle of the day. Cold water clears the head, too.
  • General advise: Have a backup plan to be more relaxed. If you know you might need medication or whatever kind of help in some situations, let one or two people know. If you e.g. can’t stand being touched by semi-strangers when upset or being overwhelmed by all the noise and chaos of dozens of moving humans, find a few trustworthy friends or teachers who will be able to recognize and handle such a situation and maybe feed you chocolate or take you out for a walk. Identify your needs in advance, communicate, feel safe.
  • Bring your favourite flip-flops or whatever kind of comfortable slip-on footwear your prefer. Some spaces might be dirty or have a cold floor, or you might want to run out for a moment without looking for your socks and putting your sweaty feet into shoes. Bring a comfortable jacket or your favourite cozy hoodie to avoid cooling out between classes or when a mestre loves talking a lot before actually getting to work. Also great as a makeshift pillow or a mini-blanket to hide beneath.
  • Drink lots of water or other healthy beverages. Pro tip: Use the bathroom during class, training rodas, or presentations to avoid queues.
  • Let go of the idea of taking part in each and every class and event. This was so hard for me the first two years, but now I’m more relaxed about this. Let go of the idea that the schedule is fixed – this I learned the hard way this year. So. Much. Craziness. (If you want to know – they delayed the troca de cordas by two days while in the meantime our instructor and his friend got their more or less spontaneous formatura and were made a full mestres! This of course ended in about three additional hours of games, speeches, and samba de roda and a frevo circle.)

staying hydrated

Most people know that staying hydrated is very essential for health – including performance, skin quality, and many other things.

But how to stay hydrated when lacking a feeling of thirst?

When I was  child/teenager, I rarely drank more than one glass of water with each meal, plus some gulps at school and maybe one or two glasses of juice in the afternoon. Only when I was in my final years of school I started to feel really thirsty, so I drank up to about 1/3 litre for each two hours at school on some days. I guess my brain was really busy during that time.

Now I’m fighting a lack of thirst once more on many days. So how do I trick myself into staying hydrated?

  • Taking a gulp of water from the tap when I’m in the bathroom (e.g. after washing my hands or before brushing teeth). With all the trips to the bathroom in a 24h period it sums up to about one or two additional glasses of water per day, I estimate.
  • Taking a bottle of water with me everywhere. I use a stainless steel bottle; and recently I noticed I feel more thirsty when I have been walking for a while.
  • Switching beverages – in between glasses of water, every now and then it is nice to drink a bit of juice or homemade lemonade (aka squeezing some lemon/orange juice straight into a big jug of water). Juice alone for fulfilling one’s daily water quota is not recommendable though, as it contains a lot of calories (fructose, sometimes even additional refined sugar; but please stay away from diet beverages containing yucky stuff like aspartame!) Mixing juice and water is better. But I’m not above drinking some store bought soda to get my thirst started – the combination of flavour and stickiness tricks my body into craving water. (And I got really low blood sugar at times, so some sugar gets my whole body up and running, resulting in signalling a need for more liquids.)
  • Don’t drink sparkling water/soda all the time! At least for me it’s quite difficult to drink a lot of that stuff without feeling full. If you’re fine with drinking more than one litre of sparkling water each day, go on with it. If not, try to get some non-sparking liquid input in addition.
  • Eating spicy or dry food. Salty popcorn or some nuts are nice thirst inducing snacks, but a little extra pepper on your lunch will do the trick just as well. Some licorice or peppermints can help, too.
  • Using straws. I drink more when I use a straw. Recently I bought some reusable stainless steel straws and I really enjoy using them. There is something about the sucking versus sipping that triggers my muscles so I continue gulping down even tasteless water. Everybody is different, so for you a narrow bottle or a big cup might be the ideal solution.

Drink on!