The life of a translator is one of discipline and adherence to strict deadlines. You can be sure that if make a mistake or submit your work late, your fees may be docked or you may not get paid at all, not to mention the feelings of shame and humiliation you feel when you mess up. The objective is a reasonable one, after all your job is to submit an acceptable piece of work within the deadline agreed, even the best made plans can go awry and we are only human after all. But the by-product is stress.
You know that stress will eventually affect your health and happiness, even though you may not notice the effects straight away. If you are having difficulties sleeping, getting headaches or you are finding work a struggle, you may blame it on an impending cold or another illness, when the culprit could be stress. Stress is an enemy that contributes to many health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
When it comes to your emotions, stress affects your mood and of course, your relationships with those around you. You may feel anxious or restless, unmotivated and unfocused, overwhelmed, irritable or angry, or even sad and depressed. It can also drive you to drink, drugs, smoking and overeating.
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, then there are plenty of things that you can do to manage your stress, such as physical activity, relaxation techniques like meditation, or a combination of both, like yoga.
On Sunday I went to a four-hour meditation workshop which was exhausting and relaxing at the same time. After four hours of rolling about on the floor and dancing to trance music in the dark I was pretty tired, but for four whole hours I didn’t look at a screen or think about deadlines or anything other than my own wellbeing. That might sound selfish, but it isn’t, because they better you feel in yourself, the most useful and productive you can be to others. I certainly slept like a log after all that flailing about in the dark.
However, four-hour meditation sessions are unlikely to become a regular occurrence. It just doesn’t fit my lifestyle. Everyone needs to find strategies and combinations of activities that help us to stay calm and healthy. There are quick stress relievers like breathing exercises that can help you to calm down in minutes. Here’s one that I use when I can’t sleep. Taking a deep breathe in for the count of three, and then exhale to the count of four. Somehow, if I focus on my breathe, my body takes care of the rest and sends me to sleep.
Obviously, this is a short-term strategy, but a long-term strategy is best. A study from the University of Connecticut found that 20 minutes was an effective amount of time to build resilience toward future stress. Mindfulness is one way of achieving this. They suggest labelling your thoughts to detach from them and then let you go rather than following the train of thought and disengaging from negative thoughts by imagining they are waves that you can glide over like water. You can also try noticing and relaxing your body using techniques such as trying to warm your body from inside with your imagination and imagining heaviness in your limbs.
By using stress-prevention techniques for 20 minutes, they claim you’ll be more resilient when the jobs are piling up and the hands of the clock seem to be spinning ever faster and that’s certainly worth less than half an hour of anyone’s time.