Our second discussion over Twitter took place yesterday at 10pm Tokyo time. This time we had nine participants from Spain, Slovenia, Venezuela, Japan, U.S., and Belgium. The topic at issue was Stress and Interpreting. For a full transcript of the 1.5 hr. discussion, click here.
The reason this topic was chosen is because interpreting is acknowledged by most in our ranks to be a stressful occupation due to the fact that you only have one shot at getting it right and many times there are significant stakes involved. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 90% of visits to the doctor are caused by stress and stress is linked to 6 leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis and suicide. Furthermore the WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that mental diseases including disorders caused by stress will be one of the leading causes of disabilities by 2020.
Some quick findings from our chat were that there is a thin line between positive excitement and stress. Stress being when one has difficulties in coping with a situation. And stress is not caused by an event that is imposed on you but rather by the way that you react to it. Interpreters stated that the majority of the symptoms experienced were cognitive ( poor concentration and forgetfulness), subjective (moodiness, anxiety), and psychological (increased blood pressure).
Outside stressors were reported in some parts of the world where disturbances of the peace and protests actually impact performance. Some reported forgetting personal life stresses when working in the booth, although I think that that is a conscious decision we make to refuse to entertain these matters in order to be able to do the job. However, our emotions are always present if only subliminally and they affect us 24X7. I was surprised to hear that last minute calls for work were experienced everywhere, although most of those on the call tended to turn down those offers. I had thought it was predominantly a U.S. phenomenon for some reason.
Some of the favorite techniques to combat stress among the group were time management, other interests outside of work (a/k/a having a life), salsa dancing, cooking, playing an instrument and yoga.
What I like most about our meetings/chats is not so much our conclusions, as nothing is rigorously substantiated, but the fact that we are creating a valuable network of interpreter friends around the world. We are a sounding board for one another and we have begun to share common concerns, experiences and responses in a simple and fun environment. Our next meeting is scheduled for October 8, same time as before. The subject matter has not yet been determined. Please come hang out and opine, we all want this to be an inclusive group and the more diverse we are, the more we will all learn from it. What would you like to be discussed? Leave suggestions here or on Twitter under #IntJC. See ya!