Today, I’d like to raise a subject as current and significant as translator’s health. Of course, each profession has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as professional risks. Of course, potential health risks exist in any activity (even inactivity! 🙂 ) but there is a weak spot everywhere. Let’s have a think about how we, as translators, can ensure our safety and stay healthy without any adverse effects on high performance rates.
Let’s start with the fact that every morning we wake up, stretch, wash up, have breakfast and… the start of the working day divides translators into two camps: translators that work for organizations get ready for work and freelancers stay at home. Sometimes, you can be so jealous of a freelancer! If they want, they can have a shower in the middle of a working day; if they feel like it, they can take a walk, get distracted at any time; they can take a short break at any moment, stretch or work out, but there are no fitness hours in the office… But to be fair, there’s not much to be jealous of. At the end of the day, we all spend most of the day behind a computer (unless you’re doing oral translations, but that’s a different story), but members of staff are forced to get to work (which implies exercising, fresh air and gaining appetite) by virtue of their working hours, whereas an overworked freelancer can sit in a stuffy room for up to two days staring at the screen and hitting the keyboard. Sounds familiar? Let’s make a conclusion: exercising, physical activity and fresh air are very good for you if you’re sitting down all day.
Let’s move on: working behind a computer puts our eyes in danger (worsening vision and computer eye syndrome), limbs (e.g. computer mouse syndrome or, to use a scientific term, carpal tunnel syndrome), skeleton (scoliosis and radiculitis), nervous system and mental state (stress, increased fatigue, insomnia, depressions, etc.) but everybody knows about all that. By the way, it’s recommended that you take a break every 2-3 hours of working behind a computer and get proper sleep in order to restore nervous system (go to bed before 23.00). It’s also a well-known fact that sitting down all day causes vasoneurosis and has a negative effect on immune system. To prevent that, we can recommend active vacations, sports, herbal concoctions, healthy diet and a well-planned working day.
Speaking of timetables – a well-structured timetable of a staff translator is in general much better for the organism: a lunch break regulates dietary regimen, a set working day ensures time off in the evening, plus weekends and vacation days. Freelancers, however, are often devoid of weekends (clients do love to send work over the weekend!), stay up late with urgent orders and forget to eat when the body demands it. Good time management and following a schedule are absolutely necessary when you’re a translator. Being a workaholic and overworking won’t help anyone: the Japanese, notorious for being like that, even have a word – “karosi” which means dying from work-related exhaustion. So, in order for karosi not to happen, translators must have excellent time off!