MET cycle of talks

Lifehacks for language professionals 2

The speakers in this second session of MET's Lifehacks cycle address two key issues that can impact our physical and mental health: workspace ergonomics and stress. In the first talk, Emma Goldsmith looks at how we can adjust our work set-ups and routines to improve our health and comfort; in the second part, Jacqueline Costa explores ways of managing and harnessing stress for positive change. Their talks last 50 minutes each, with breaks for Q&A and discussion. 

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin
Emma Goldsmith

Sedentary behaviour is associated with poor health outcomes and the incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Prolonged computer use can also cause eye strain and pain or discomfort in the upper body. Manufacturers of ergonomic devices sell their products as a panacea, but scientific evidence is weak. Sedentary language professionals therefore need to find their own tailor-made combination of exercise, breaks and ergonomic strategies to stay healthy and prevent acute and chronic problems.

At this Lifehacks session, I’ll recommend empirical and evidence-based adjustments we can make to our workstation set-ups and discuss features of conventional and ergonomic computer peripherals, desks and chairs that might improve comfort, sharing some notions of anatomy and pathology of the eye and upper extremity. Alternatives to sitting will be covered, too. And because physical activity counteracts sedentarism, I’ll also discuss best practices for taking breaks and exercise. 

By the end of the session, you’ll have a better understanding of the risks inherent to prolonged computer use and come away more informed and more motivated to look after yourself while working.

Harnessing stress for positive change
Jacqueline Costa

We tend to talk about stress in negative terms, as the scourge of modern life. But stress is a natural physiological response to change or a challenge; it is our fight, flight, or freeze response, and, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. However, while some stress can actually be beneficial (eustress), prolonged exposure to stress will evolve into bad stress (distress), which can negatively impact our physical and mental health and our quality of life.

Work-related stress can stimulate us to make positive changes, but only if we know how to harness it.

In this session I’ll present the strategies and practices I’ve found most effective in managing my own work-related stress, including time management and workload hacks, client communication tips, and digital detox strategies. I’ll also explain how I manage personal issues – things like emotional baggage, health and family issues, and the isolation typical of our work. Participants will be encouraged to share what has/hasn’t worked for them and where they (and I) still need some help.

Harnessing work-related stress to make positive changes will benefit your physical and mental health. You’ll feel better and have a better quality of life.


Emma Goldsmith is a freelance Spanish-to-English medical translator who originally trained as a registered general nurse in London. She writes a blog called Signs & Symptoms of Translation about Trados, medical translation and computer keyboards, and currently serves as MET’s Chair. 

Jacqueline M. Costa is an English-mother-tongue copy editor/translator based in Italy and specializing in biomedical research. She also teaches scientific English, is the author of The doctor is in: Capire l'inglese delle riviste scientifiche (Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore, 2010), and is a speaker coach for TEDxReggioEmilia.