The work of a remote interpreter sometimes involves dealing with a variety of factors that can stress our minds and bodies – from never knowing what to expect on the other end of the line, to having to remain seated for long periods of time. And now, more than ever, it’s important for us to practice self-care so that we can make sure we are helping ourselves as well as helping others through our work. Read on for some easy and practical ideas!
Organize Your Space
If you’re working with video, you’re already taking care to maintain a professional appearance and to have a neutral background. How about the space in front of you? In addition to all of your necessities such as a computer, headset, and pen and paper, are there some things around you that make you happy? It might be a potted plant, an essential oil diffuser, a picture drawn by your child, or a photo of your dog – there’s room for whatever makes you smile! And, don’t forget to keep a bottle of water within easy reach to keep you hydrated.
Social distancing rules coupled with the solitary nature of remote interpreters’ work can make you feel isolated. So reach out! Get connected through Skype, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Whatsapp, Telegram, or Facetime! Have a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) with your friends. Read a bed-time story to your niece or nephew. Teach your grandparents how to make video calls. Arrange to have a workout session with some friends and take turns selecting exercise videos. Start a group chat with fellow interpreters. You might be in quarantine, but you’re not alone!
Take a Break
You might find that you need a break after a particularly intense session. Or perhaps you’ve been sitting down for a while and now have a crick in your neck. Get up and look out of the window. Do a short meditation. Do some stretches. In fact, you don’t even have to get up to do this cool deskercise routine.
Stay Informed (within reason)
Consider limiting your time reading the news and stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it’s important to stay informed on measures people should take to limit the spread of the virus, reading every article you see can contribute to the increased stress and anxiety many of us are experiencing in these difficult times.
Whether you’re struggling to process a difficult interpreting encounter or face anxiety over financial issues, it’s ok not to be ok. Whether you need to debrief or simply to vent, find a person to talk to and let it all out (just make sure to protect the confidentiality of all parties involved and never to disclose PPI (personal protected information) when you’re debriefing. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a professional. Services like TalkSpace allow you to connect to therapists without leaving the comfort of your home, which is especially relevant now. Another useful resource is this podcast on interpreting through stress and anxiety for language professionals working through COVID-19.
As a remote interpreter, you are doing the vital job of helping people communicate, often during critical situations in their lives. However, there is somebody else who needs your help – you. Help yourself by practicing self-care and being kind to yourself. Stay safe and stay well!