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Freelance Translation and the Effect on the Mental Health: Isolation

I’ve always been someone that enjoyed working alone. Regardless if it was writing a paper, a chapter of a book, or simply studying for exams, working alone has always given me a sense of accomplishment that I could never get by working with someone else. As a result, when I stumbled across my first job as a work-at-home translator, it all seemed like a dream job.

At first, it seemed wonderful: there weren’t any internal interruptions, I wasn’t distracted by any chit-chatting during coffee breaks, I didn’t need any work clothes other than my pajamas, and I did not have to waste any time on public transportation. For all anyone cared, I could have woken up and jumped right away on my laptop – because there was no one keeping tabs on me.

However, at some point, I began to see a few changes – and my relationship with isolation became more and more noticeable. I could go entire days without seeing or talking to anyone, and I would simply refuse to change and go out just to come back and get back to work again. My life focused on working, looking at translation rates per word – and then remaining home  to recover from a “long day’s work.” 

The result of this was periods of extreme isolation, which alternated with periods where I was extremely extroverted. After a few days of staying only at home, I would go out as if my life depended on it. It was exhausting, depressing – and most importantly, my social life took such a hit that I felt like I had no one else to reach or connect to.

The Trend of Freelance Isolation

As funny as it might seem, I wasn’t the only one fighting with these solitary feelings. If you go on any search engine and type in “freelance isolation,” you will see that you have something between three and seven million results. These lonely circumstances might affect all of us in different ways, but they all seem to meet at the same point in freelancing: your mental health becomes affected. It’s a side-effect of self-employment that we never see coming, but it hits us so hard that we are barely able to stop it.

Humans are, after all, social beings. In order to function properly, we need others to motivate us, to drop us into action, to offer us support and feedback. When you are sitting all days in your PJs in front of your laptop in your house, this does not necessarily help your cause. Still, there are a few things that you can do to actually take the reins on this situation.

How to Manage the Isolation Issue

The feeling of isolation might make the relaxing and liberating world of freelance translation seem like a prison – but you should know that there is a way for you to get out of this cell. From the perspective of a work-at-home freelancer, here is what you might want to do to break this vicious cycle:

  • Coworking Spaces and Work Dates

Yes, you can work with other people while you are a freelancer. No one is telling you to stay isolated in a corner of a dark room just because you have a solo project going on. Regardless if you are renting out a coworking space or are joining a fellow freelancing friend at their apartment, this will get you out of the house and break your antisocial cycle.

  • Networking

As a freelancer, you should create as many connections as possible so that you may make your profile stand out. Once you do that, all the professional goodies will come running in your direction.

I know what you are thinking, though: what does this have to do with helping your mental health? Well, it’s fairly simple, actually. When you build connections and reach financial stability, you are bound to build some confidence in your professional abilities. Moreover, these kinds of connections will also create a sense of community, providing you moral support.

  • Balancing Work and Life

I know, this is easier said than done – but if we want to escape this sense of isolation, we will have to reach a sense of balance. At some point, we will have to simply stop typing – and not only to go to the bathroom or grab another coffee. You will have to take some time away from the topic of translation altogether. Not only will it provide you work-life boundaries, but it will also offer you the support that you need.

Final Thoughts

Working as a freelancing translator might seem like a dream job – but in the end, it will eventually take a toll on your mental health. To avoid spiraling down, you will have to apply the right tactics that will keep isolation at bay. 

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