The image many people have of freelancers working from home is that of someone wearing pajamas all day long, with unkempt hair, dark circles under their eyes, and a pot of coffee always ready to go. The stereotype isn't much different when it comes to translators, who seem to spend their days chained to their computer desk, not getting much sunlight and rather basking under the glow of a screen. And, even though interpreters have to go out in public more often, they also seem to spend most of their time sitting in waiting rooms or inside a booth (space permitting, they can barely pace back and forth during an assignment).
I know it's hard to make a commitment to your own health when it seems like you're running on a hamster wheel: looking for translation projects or interpretation assignments, working hard for the money, researching terminology, performing housekeeping duties, and staying up to date with what's going on in the industry. If only we could indeed work while running on a hamster wheel! Instead, we're sitting all the time, most likely with horrible posture, and constantly complaining about shoulder/back/neck pain.
Things don't have to be that way, though! Even though ours seems to be a sedentary life while spending so much time sitting at the computer to get work done, study, and interact with clients and peers online or over the phone, it's actually easy to get moving―you just have to get up and go!
Studies show that spending most of your day sitting is harmful to your health. Still, you don't have to become a marathon runner or a triathlete in order to counteract the effects of inactivity. Doing anything you enjoy for at least 30 minutes a day is enough to get your heart rate up, reduce stress, and add quality back into your life. Walking, running, swimming, biking, playing sports, dancing―pick your poison (or, rather, antidote!) and make a switch to a more active life.
If you feel you can't commit to doing physical activities regularly, because there's always something else you need to be doing, I have an idea for you: Why don't you join a challenge and use a healthy competitive environment to motivate you to get up and move more? After all, it's harder to fall off the bandwagon after you're made a commitment to your peers.
In May 2016 I joined the 1,000,000 miles challenge organized by translators Tanya Quintieri and Zbynek Taborsky. It has helped me keep my mileage up throughout the year, not because I wanted to cover the most miles in the group, but because I felt I was not alone―we're in this together! Since the 2016-2017 challenge is coming to an end on April 30th, I highly recommend that T&I professionals keep an eye out in case there's a 2017-2018 edition. I'm sure you'll enjoy participating in it!
Thinking about that―how fun this challenge was and how it's almost over―I decided to follow Tanya and Zbynek's example and proposed a similar friendly competition to fellow translators who have Portuguese as their working language. The challenge will last three months only (April through June 2017) and we'll check who covers the most kilometers because, well, we use the metric system! ;)
I'm looking forward to being motivated by colleagues to keep moving and counteracting the effects of doing too much sitting and being stressed out by deadlines and work-related responsibilities. So, what do you plan on doing to improve your quality of life?