The Linguist

The Linguist 57,2 – April/May 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 28 of 35 APRIL/MAY The Linguist 29 OPINION & COMMENT called 'burnout' in 1974 by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, who defined it as "a state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by one's professional life". It is very likely to occur George Dimitrov is Chair of the Interpreters' Voice magazine committee and a member of the British Psychological Society. TL among people involved in social jobs, including teachers, police officers, lawyers, medical staff and interpreters. Because their focus is on person-to-person interaction, their personal values and qualities, as well as their mental state at work, are of great significance. Other typical symptoms include weariness and weakening of the immune system, sleep disturbance and insomnia, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, concentration and attention issues, constant fatigue, headache, body pain, muscle tension, stomach problems, rapid heartbeat, feeling drained, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, cynicism and substance misuse (such as alcohol and nicotine). Burnout is considered to be a medical diagnosis in some European countries, including Sweden and the Netherlands, similar to general stress but with a work- related scope. It is included in the official therapeutic manuals and there are health professionals trained to recognise, observe and apply appropriate treatments, including consultant methods and approaches. A widespread concern More than half (51%) of full-time employees in Britain have experienced anxiety or burnout in their current job, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Virgin in 2015. 1 According to Psychology Today, "Burnout is not a simple result of long hours. The cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you're not in control of how you carry out your job, when you're working toward goals that don't resonate with you, and when you lack social support. If you don't tailor your responsibilities to match your true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, you could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems." 2 There are many mental states similar to burnout, so anyone suffering from symptoms such as these should meet with a professional to discuss the situation. A well-prepared consultant or psychotherapist can advise whether or not a course of a professional treatment could be helpful, but it is important that all elements are taken into consideration: when we started feeling like this; whether it is a constant state or something that comes and goes; what kind of social support we have; what we do to relax. For interpreters who are working outside their native country, our home culture can be important here, as a lack of understanding of the native culture on the part of the mental health professional can impede a proper diagnosis – something that we may recognise in the course of our work but can often forget when we become the patient/client ourselves. A key element to help us avoid burnout is maintaining good relationships and communication with our colleagues. The support of colleagues can also enable us to identify burnout when it does happen and seek help. To discuss these issues confidentially or support further research in this area, contact or visit Notes 1 See -workers-have-experienced-burnout-their-job 2 [Websites checked 16/3/18] Burnout is considered to be a medical diagnosis in some European countries, including Sweden A heavy workload with long hours can make it difficult to realise when something is wrong © SHUTTERSTOCK

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