Being a digital nomad has numerous perks and benefits, especially when compared to working in an office or even working from home. However, it comes with many different issues that you might not be aware of when starting your new life regarding your mental well-being.
Here are some of the challenges that working as a digital nomad brings and ideas on coping with them.
Being your own boss isn’t always that great
When they are in control of their working hours, some people tend to work too much. The lack of scheduled work time then takes away from leisure time, and, before you know it, you end up being too exhausted.
Even when it comes to working from home instead of an office, research has shown that people who work from home deal with much more stress than their colleagues. In fact, 41 percent of those working from home have reported feeling that they are experiencing high amounts of stress.
A lack of boundaries regarding when you need to start working, when you need to get up and go to sleep, log off of social media and more can feel like true liberation. But, it can gradually morph into a feeling of being out of control for many people.
Loneliness and isolation
Sure, once you leave the tedious office work routine, you leave all the annoying coworkers behind. At the same time, you lose all those people you would be complaining about those irritating coworkers to.
This disconnectivity from your coworkers, and the rest of the world may make you feel lonely and isolated. Loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms like random pain.
For digital nomads, depression can happen when you feel stuck. Without career milestones like a new nameplate on your desk or a fancy corner office, you may not feel as if you’re achieving as much as your peers. Simply put, we need others to compare ourselves to them if only to see that we are doing so much better than they are.
The anxiety, stress, and loneliness of working remotely can lead to depression or make it worse. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression can demonstrate itself in many ways. The symptoms include:
- Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration (even over small matters)
- Loss of interest or happiness in activities such as sex or hobbies
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Increased cravings for food
- Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- Often wanting to stay at home rather than going out to socialize or do new activities
When to seek help
If you feel that any of the things listed above apply to you, or even if you just want to talk to someone who can understand you, you should reach out and find a specialist who does remote therapy.
Remote therapy is as private and as well regulated as the psychotherapy that is done in person, so you shouldn’t worry. Some therapists work via Skype, telephone, and FaceTime, while others use specially designed platforms. Either way, your well-being and privacy are their top priority.
What you can do
Find friends who know what you are going through
The location independent lifestyle is a relatively new phenomenon. Sadly, this means that there won’t be that many locals that can understand your daily struggles or even your motives.
If you find yourself in a popular destination, try finding places where other digital nomads gather, such as libraries or coffee shops. If all else fails, try finding like-minded individuals via Facebook groups or other social media venues.
Create a routine and stick to it
When you organize your tasks and outline your goals, you mentally prepare yourself for what to expect during the day. This makes it easier to achieve your daily goals instead of aimlessly heading towards them and hoping for the best.
Having a strict schedule that you adhere to also prevents things that are not on your to-do list from finding their way into your workload and draining your resources and brainpower.
You must take breaks during this time, but with an important distinction: if you think that staring at your phone is a nice break from staring at your computer, you are wrong. Have some time during working hours when you won’t be looking at any big or small screens.
Spend some time out in nature
There are numerous benefits to devoting some time to the great outdoors. There is even a form of therapy called ecotherapy that treats disorders such as anxiety, stress, and depression with time in nature. Studies show outdoor walks may help lower blood pressure and stress hormones.
Learn when to say no
You may want to take on as much work as you can, but there’s only so much you can complete in a day. Know your limitations, set boundaries based on your schedule and workload, and don’t extend yourself beyond them. Your body and your mind will be grateful for that.
Living a location independent life has many perks, but it also comes with its problems.
Most of these problems stem from the fact that we humans are social animals, and we need others that can understand us and share our concerns and the challenges we have to face on a day to day basis.
Other problems come from the fact that we tend to work too much and neglect different needs when left to our own devices. All of this can lead to anxiety, depression, and other more severe mental health issues.
While there are some ways that you can help yourself and alleviate the pain that comes with being a digital nomad, your best course of action would be to find a specialist that does remote psychotherapy. After all, we’re all just humans, and we all need support every once in a while.