Healthy Translator: 7 Tips to Stay Emotionally Healthy
Every day from every corner we hear about importance of physical health. TV, social networks, big boards and tabloids throw at us thousands of statements, evidence and arguments about necessity of being physically fit. But what about emotional and mental health?
A sound mind is in a sound body. There are enormous amounts of tips for freelancer on how to keep your body sound, but there are not so much pieces of advice for emotional health. How to survive the stress of our jobs with our sanity intact?
7 tips for freelancers to stay emotionally healthy
- Take a break. When was the last time you had a full-fledged day off? Can’t remember?
Burnout is not a myth. It is real, and it fetters. Working under stress and high pressure all the time will inevitably lead to you hating what you are doing. How long will you be able to continue your professional activities if your brain resists the mere thought of translating one more foreign word into you native language?
- Go on vacation.
Travelling changes you. Even a couple of days away from fuss and routine can do wonders to your emotional wellbeing. Travelling allows you to see new towns, cities, countries and even continents. Travelling is not cheap, but you work hard and you work a lot, so you deserve to spend some time discovering the world around you. Draw inspiration from the things you see. Let them charge you with energy. When you return home, you’ll be refreshed and ready to go back to work.
- Get a hobby.
Engaging in some other activities beside your work will bring you joy and make you happier. If you take pride in your hobby, it may even raise your self-esteem.
Hobbies may also present a challenge. I picked up a new hobby after a Spanish lesson I had in University. My professor explained the difference between the verbs ‘saber’ (to know to do something) and ‘conocer’ (to know something). That day I came to realization that I ‘conozco’ a lot of things, but ‘sé’ few. Thus, I came home, typed ‘how to knit video’ and learned how to knit. Now, five years later, there is nothing I can’t knit.
- Be creative.
In my opinion, translation does not allow creativity, unless you translate literature or commercials. The less you deviate from what’s written in the original, the better.
Since we cannot be creative in the course of our professional activities, we have to find another outlet. I found my outlet in writing fiction. I write crime and adventures stories and post them online (under a pen name, because I want to keep my work and hobby separate). Creating short stories or 100k+ novels helps me redirect my energy, change perspective and challenge myself. It also presents a break. Writing from my imagination is completely different from what I do every day. Translation requires accurate rendering of information presented in the original. When I write, though, I don’t have such restriction and can render my thoughts the way I want. Creating a world from scratch, shaping the characters, throwing things their way and making them overcome the obstacles always brings me positive emotions. And nothing can compare to the joy when I get reviews. I grin from ear to ear every time I receive a review to my fiction stories, especially if the reviewer liked my work.
It is not a secret that freelance translators are solitary beings. We spend days on end working alone. Work in such conditions may lead to a feeling of isolation.
There is no better way to combat this feeling than spending some time with other people. Talking to other people even for 15 minutes will ground us and remind that we exist in society and our world is not limited to the computer screen.
If you have hobbies, you may register on specialized forums and join the discussions there. It is also a great way to show the fruits of your work. The feedback you’ll get from fellow hobbyists may also boost your self-esteem. On the other hand, if you are not as good as you thought, you’ll get critics and advice on how to improve. Positive or negative, you’ll still find connection with the like-minded individuals.
Furthermore, you may sign up for a course or join a club. Translators are inherently curious beings. Taking a course on an interesting topic may dull boredom and quench thirst for knowledge. In our modern world that became easy. There are multiple online learning platforms which provide university level courses on everything and anything. Working on the same assignments will ensure communication with the others.
Doing some kind of sport is not only good for your body, but also for your mind. It helps you sort your thoughts, shift your focus and provide you with a break from routine. When you do some kind of sport, you set a goal and learn how to achieve it. When you reach that goal, it raises your level of happiness and self-esteem.
“Practice makes perfect” was written in red block letters on the wall of my English classroom at school. Indeed, the more you practice, the more you repeat the same thing over and over again, the more you learn from your mistakes and become more confident in your skills. This confidence goes beyond your skills in sport, it also spreads to your everyday life and professional life. Confidence in yourself is just as important as confidence in your translation ability.
Laughter prolongs life. Plus, laugh is available to everyone and costs nothing. Laugh gets rid of stress and relaxes body. When you laugh, your body releases endorphins which relieve pain and produce the feeling of euphoria. Laugh reduces anxiety and improves general mood.
Whichever way you choose to support your emotional wellbeing, remember that as freelance translators our mind is our greatest asset. For it to bring fruits, we should cherish it and take care of it.
If you found this article interesting, you might also want to read Healthy Translator: 5 Tips on Physical Health.