Reducing Stress as Sign Language Interpreters
~ Authored by Amy Miller
Reducing stress as Sign Language Interpreters is critical; we MUST take care of ourselves on and off the job. Without trying to sound like everyone else out there, I’d like to offer some practical ways you can accomplish this.
Tips for Reducing Stress
Start with how you plan your day. If you are inclined to believe you can clean the house, change the oil in the mower, and make 30 freezer meals before your 8 AM assignment, just stop…no, you can’t. Retire the cape.
- Your stress level can be related to planning (or lack thereof), assuming you aren’t oppressed, impoverished, or otherwise incapacitated. If you are just a regular human, living a regular human life, there are plenty of hours in the day. If your first reaction was, “You don’t know my life,” I would encourage you to reexamine your lifestyle. Take action to make changes, even if they’re gradual.
- Just for the sake of time, let’s stick to reducing stress for the professional you. There are many more things you can do in your personal life that impact your professional life, but that’s a topic for another blog. Here are some of the most important ones:
- Are you sleeping?
- Are you eating healthy (at least sort of)?
- Are you drinking plenty of water?
- Are you exercising?
- Do you have any fun?
If you are not doing these things, you are building your professional life on a weak foundation that just won’t last. Eventually you will burn out, or you will develop unhealthy habits trying to maintain your lifestyle, or you will be unhappy and end up taking it out on people you encounter.
- Leave your home in plenty of time to drive the speed limit, possibly get stuck in traffic, AND arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the assignment begins. You will feel less stressed which will result in decreased stress reducing behaviors. I swear I have eaten 100,000 pounds of sugar in my career to offset stress. The sugar high works for momentary relief, but it doesn’t last.
- Sometimes your assignments are stressful from start to finish. You worry whether you will effectively interpret. You experience stress on the job with all the factors that go into the process of interpreting. You feel exhausted by the end of it. Oh, and you forgot to pack a lunch so we get fast food and rush to the next job. If this describes YOU, try a simple technique I use.
I was introduced to a technique a few years ago that I really like, and it works! This technique can be used before you go in to an assignment (or test), when you’re on the job, and after an assignment. It goes by different names depending on which article you read, but I just call it “Finger Release.”
(*You can refer to this article to get more detailed information about it, but here’s what I do and I swear by it.)
Hold each finger for about a minute, maybe more depending on how you feel. Breathe in and out slowly.
Wrap one hand around a finger. You don’t have to squeeze.
Then just breathe in (1, 2, 3), hold the breath (4, 5, 6), and breathe out (7, 8, 9).
I hope you find some relaxation in this simple technique that you can do anywhere without anyone knowing.
Taking it to the Real World
We can’t address everything about reducing stress as sign language interpreters in our personal and professional lives in one blog, but this is a foundation for building and maintaining healthy habits. So next time the stress of our field starts to get to you, fall back on some of the tips described above. Remember, you only have one life to live.