02 Apr Preparing for the “New Normal”
It’s been one year since the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Vaccinations bring hope that the virus can become less of a threat and we can get back to what we consider “normal.” However, we, the world, and our profession have changed. We need to be prepared that the “old normal” might not be coming back and we don’t know what the “new normal” is going to be.
During the last year, we’ve had to adjust to new circumstances and focus on surviving the pandemic and taking care of ourselves and our families. Many interpreters embraced virtual platforms, learned how to use interpreting equipment, and got comfortable in front of a camera (or a microphone). With more people working and studying remotely, we had to create a peaceful space in our homes and continue working without too many distractions. Some of us decided to go on sabbatical and take care of our children or older parents. Some interpreters and translators retired early, and some jumped into starting new businesses. And for a few whose work situation hasn’t changed that much, it’s been plenty to “process and digest” – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
We’ve heard a lot lately that we, our nation, and the world need to heal. The pandemic created a pressing need for healing physically, emotionally, and mentally. However, healing is a process, not an event. Many of us experience pandemic fatigue, and before we can heal, we need to rest. When we feel relaxed, we have the energy to heal, carry on, and handle new challenges related to reopening in-person interpreting and creating the “new normal.”
Nevertheless, we can take good care of ourselves now, so whatever happens in the future, we can be optimistic, invigorated, and ready to embrace new challenges while enjoying what we have been missing in the past year. Here are some ideas that can help to energize our personal lives and boost our productivity at work.
- Taking time off
Even one day off from work and other responsibilities can feel like a mini vacation if you plan and organize it well. Start with letting everyone know you are not available during your scheduled time. Make a spa appointment (or take a bath at home), spend time outdoors, order your favorite takeout dinner, meet (or have a phone or Facetime conversation) with someone you feel close to, read a book, make yourself a cup of tea and sip it slowly while listening to your favorite music.
- Moving the body
This might sound counterintuitive, but we often rest while being physically active. Our bodies are designed to move. We get physically and mentally tired from sitting too long. Start your day with a few minutes of movement (while you are waiting for your coffee to finish brewing) and stretch, dance, jump, or do a few pushups. Use your lunch break to take a walk outside or use a YouTube video to work out at home. Hire a personal trainer or take a fitness class to help you start a new routine.
- Eating for energy
Not all foods are created equal. Some foods provide energy so that we can function well, and some require energy to process and digest them. We want to make choices that provide fuel for our bodies and minds: plenty of water, fresh fruits and vegetables (leafy greens), whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, animal-based proteins that are sustainable and humanely raised. Limiting sugar, fried and processed foods, and caffeinated and sugary drinks can make a big difference in how we feel at the end of the day and how we perform in the long run.
- Letting creative juices flow
Whatever your gifts are – writing, painting, drawing, singing, playing instruments, dancing, woodworking, planting gardens, sewing, baking, or knitting – cultivating this talent can provide rest from regular responsibilities and a break for our anxious minds. Schedule your time to include at least a few minutes of “checking-in” with your creative self, join an interest group, or look for a friend or an accountability buddy that will support you and your projects.
- Optimizing sleep
There is no better way to rest than getting a good night’s sleep. During sleep, our bodies rejuvenate, repair, and heal. Our brains need sleep to store memories and sort out experiences from the previous day. The amount of time and quality of sleep matters: 7-9 hours (for adults) is the norm. Also make sure you have a cool temperature (around 67 F) and darkness in your bedroom, a comfortable bed, go to sleep and get up at the same time each day (ideally 10 PM – 6:00 AM), and eat dinner no later than 3 hours before going to bed (this also applies to drinking alcohol). These healthy habits can make a big difference in how we sleep at night and how rested we are when we get up in the morning.
I believe that interpreters and translators are very resilient (we are the world’s citizens!), but we are not immune to the adverse effects of the last year’s events or the new challenges ahead. I invite you to take a moment and notice how you feel. Acknowledge your physical and emotional struggles and take inventory of events that affected you the most. Be thoughtful and compassionate towards yourself and create a plan to take care of yourself so that you can move forward with your life and your career.
We can thrive after the pandemic, but first, we need to rest, relax, and give ourselves time and space to heal. What are your ways to take care of yourself and prepare for the “new normal”?
Urszula Bunting is a professional Legal and Medical Interpreter and Translator. She is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Registered Yoga Teacher, and published author. Urszula is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their health and to transform life’s difficulties into opportunities to grow. For more information, please visit www.ubwell4life.com.
Read other posts by Urszula Bunting.