When a person becomes a successful freelance translator, one of the first aspects to get neglected is health. Working as a freelance translator often means sitting in front of the computer for hours on end, without even realizing it because we’re so immerse in the project at hand, trying to complete it perfectly and on time. Being a translator myself, I started to notice some strain in my joints after being in a single position for long periods of time, among other indicators that show me I could take better care of myself.
Has this happened to you?
If so, here are 5 tips to stay healthy while working as a freelance translator:
1.Drink your water
One of the key causes of joint discomfort is lack of fluids in your system. Dehydration can also cause headaches, lack of focus and fatigue. Keep an eye on your water intake, try to take a glass of water for each hour you work. Increasing your water intake would cause you to take more restroom breaks at first, but your body will adjust after a couple of days, and you won’t need as many breaks. If you don’t like the flavor of plain water, try drinking it with a wedge of lemon, which will additionally boost your immune system and your metabolism.
2.Stretch every hour
After each hour of work, stand up and do some simple stretching exercises:
- Extend your right arm above your head, and slowly lean towards your left hand side, stretching your right oblique muscles. Do the same with the other side.
- Extend your right arm in front of you, and take it to the left hand side, still extended. Hold the position using your left hand. Do the same with the other side.
- Slowly rotate your shoulders and ankles clockwise and counter clockwise.
- Look to your left, then to your right. Then, try to touch your right shoulder with your right ear. Do the same with the other side.
- Extend your arm and focus your sight on your fingernails for 10 seconds. Then, focus on a point far away from you for another 10 seconds. This will give your eyes a rest.
- Finally, take 5 deep slow breaths, and get back to work fully refreshed and rested.
3.Give ergonomics its due importance
Ergonomics are important to help you maintain a relaxed posture while working, which will reflect on your energy levels and ability to stay focused on your translation tasks.
An uncomfortable chair, a desk placed too high or too low, and continuous skin friction with hard surfaces can quickly take a toll on your productivity.
Make sure your chair has proper lumbar support, a firm but comfortable seat and a good back that supports your shoulders and neck. Your calves should be perpendicular to the floor, forming a 90° angle with your thighs, and your feet flat on the floor. Your elbows should rest without pressure at each side of your body, and your forearms should be parallel to the floor.
A well-designed desk is essential, and despite all those Instagram photos of vintage offices, not any table would do. A good desk will let you place your computer and/or your keyboard and monitor at the recommended height, and even adjust them to your particular needs.
Your keyboard should be at such height that allows your elbows to be at a 90° angle. Your shoulders should stay relaxed, with your forearms parallel to the floor when you’re typing.
Your monitor should be placed 20 to 40 inches away from your face. Adjust your monitor height so that its center sits at eye level. And while you’re adjusting the height, adjust the contrast and brightness as well, so that it doesn’t cause unnecessary strain to your eyes.
Use special hardware if necessary. There are some weird-looking but very comfortable keyboards and even joystick-like mouse devices, that reduce the tension in your wrists while typing and generally working on the computer for a long period of time.
Finally, keep an eye out for possible places that cause friction with any part of your body, especially with your wrists and elbows, to avoid skin irritation, scaling or even the formation of calluses.
4.Exercise regularly and keep a healthy diet
We can’t leave out the importance of regular exercise and a healthy diet when talking about our general wellbeing. But these are two factors that many freelance translators don’t take too seriously. After all, who has time to cook? And you barely have enough energy to work, let alone to wake up early to do yoga! However, you may have forgotten (because, deep down, you know this) that a little exercise can actually leave you more energized, which will increase your productivity. And which freelancer doesn’t want to be more productive?
Now, speaking of your diet. You cannot live on corn chips and soda and pretend to perform at 100% of your capacity. You need to feed your brain in order to get the best out of it. Try to include leafy greens, a good variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains into your diet. And when you get the mid-morning or mid-afternoon cravings, try yogurt, nuts, raisins, or even a small piece of dark chocolate. All of these options are loaded with good-for-you nutrients, and will keep you going without getting drowsy from eating too much.
5.Set a working schedule
This might be the hardest for both the diligent freelance translator, and the one who suffers from acute procrastination, but it´s essential for having a well-balanced life. Setting a fix schedule will help you better manage your time at work, as well as get enough sleep and a good amount of personal time. This work-down time-sleep triad should always be balanced. The moment any of the components starts taking over the others, the body will start feeling the consequences. So, set your working schedule and adjust to it as much as you can. Your mind and body will thank you for it.