Healthcare interpreters’ senses are constantly bombarded with information. Sometimes this information is a cause for joy. Other times this information is a cause for sorrow. As part of an interpreter’s daily self-care practices, it is helpful to incorporate strategies that soothe and renew the senses. Think of it as a toolkit, or better yet, a treasure box for your senses.
These are just a few suggestions of things to keep in your treasure box:
Hearing – Listen to a song or hum a tune that lifts your spirits. Perhaps the sound of silence is what you need. Spend some time in the hospital chapel or meditation area. Make a sanctuary out of your car or find a quiet place on campus to pause for a moment.
Seeing – Have a quote , a photo of a loved one, or a picture of a special place that will remind you of the goodness and beauty in your life. Keep this in a visible place, if appropriate, or in your mobile photo album.
Smelling – Have an aromatically pleasing or stimulating object on hand such as a diffuser or scented freshener. (Just be sure to avoid scents that will linger on you once you’re back on duty. Even pleasant smells can trigger allergic reactions for sensitive individuals, or it might trigger the memory center of someone’s brain. Depending on what memory the smell is associated with, that might not be a good thing.)
Touching – Keep a stress ball, a fun fidget or a soft-n-fuzzy object with you. These objects can help release tension, add whimsy or comfort the senses. (Please take proper infection control precautions when storing and handling these items.)
Tasting – We hope that the tongue is the most protected of all sensory receptors, but even if it hasn’t been directly impacted by the environment, it is probably impacted by all that talking. Stay hydrated – water is best. Have a travel toothbrush and toothpaste on hand, just in case. No time to brush? Carry some Listerine® Pocketpaks® Breath Strips with you. Unlike their gum and breath mint alternatives, these handy strips are easy to discretely ingest and consume (no noisy wrappers, rattly box, or need to spit it out when it gets old).
Have more ideas? Let us know what is in your treasure box for the senses, or share a story about how these treasures help you to renew and refresh.
Want to develop self-care practices? Join us for Interpreting Is (Not) for the Feeble, an online continuing education course for medical interpreters.