Self-care is often defined as anything we purposefully do to take care of our emotional, spiritual, and mental health. But there is much more to it than that. What we often don’t hear about is self-care defined as the opposite – things we don’t engage in because they are not good for our health.
Additionally, self-care isn’t always planned activities, but it can be anything that helps you move toward either stillness or growth, such as playing with thinking patterns, exploring attitudes, purposeful reflections, and meaningful connections. Perhaps one of the most well-known terms in mental health but also one of the most misunderstood, simply because it is difficult to define something that can look, feel, touch, taste, and smell differently for everyone.
Self-care for individuals who work as translators or interpreters may look the same or different from those who work in other fields. Translators, who often work in solitude and interpreters, who have high paced expectations, need to take care due to these special circumstances. Here are 5 ways in which any busy professional may consider for self-care.
Connect to Others
Connecting to others is important, especially when working alone is very important. As human beings, we are creatures who not only thrive through human connection, but require it for sustaining life. From an evolutionary perspective, we need each other to stay alive. This was especially true in the past, but our brains have not evolved as fast as society has. We are generally safe in solitude, but at times our brains will tell us that it is dangerous to be alone. In fact, being alone and lonely can trigger our fight, flight, freeze response. Connecting to others (or allowing others to connect to us) is key to mediating this response and may be the most important self-care work we can do.
Fuel Your Creativity
Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” shows us that creativity is a human need that helps drive us towards “self actualization”, or towards fully knowing our potential and talents, which furthers us towards fulling knowing ourselves. Luckily, as translators and interpreters, you are often working within the realm of creativity. Of course, there are countless other ways to be creative, and integrating more into your life can be an important act of self-care.
Live in the Moment Using Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a phrase that most people have heard of. It is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations”. This helps us understand, tolerate, and live with our internal experiences. There are many resources available for mindfulness, and finding a few practices you enjoy doing can be integrated into your repertoire of self-care.
Create Full Sensory Experiences
Our five senses have a direct pathway to our brain, and thus can help soothe and calm us, or can help us better integrate our learnings. Creating situations during which each of your 5 senses can explore, integrate, and experience can facilitate new brain connections, new behaviors and habits, or can simply produce stillness and calm.
Validate, Appreciate, and Celebrate Yourself
Finding ways to validate yourself, which means to tell yourself that your inner experiences are all important and okay, is key to self-understanding and self-growth. Equally important is finding time to infuse appreciation in your life, whether it’s from big successes or from simply finding gratitude in the fact that you have the ability to take breaths. Recent research has shown us that gratitude can actually help with integrating learning and helps with decision making, as these areas tend to be more active during grateful moments. Finally, celebrating yourself through purposeful ceremonies and traditions, such as a weekly time to watch your favorite tv show, or a monthly get-together with validating friends, is a lovely tool for self-care, because it shows self-love.