Prevent burnout with these mental health tips for digital nomads
On paper, the digital nomad lifestyle is fantastic. There are lots of perks – flexibility, seeing the world, meeting great people, and working from wherever you want. However, with the lack of stability, it’s incredibly common for digital nomads to experience burnout when living a life on the road. We are constantly working on finding quality accommodation, suitable working conditions, and getting to know a new area. Constantly moving around can get stressful, but there are ways that digital nomads can work to prevent burnout. The key is prioritizing mental health, and we have rounded up mental health tips for digital nomads and tools to help you do that.
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about mental health and working remotely, but not nearly enough talk about mental health tips for digital nomads. Our lives are different from most, so we have different stressors. Most of us want to sustain the lifestyle long-term, so it’s important to recognize signs of burnout, reduce our stress now, and practice great mental health so we can be in it for the long haul.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
There are always going to be hurdles and challenges that come up as a digital nomad. Your electricity might go out in your bungalow in Costa Rica in the middle of a call or you might have a flight canceled as you are on the way to the airport. However, you can avoid most nasty surprises by taking the time to plan things out in detail.
When looking for a location, think about the following factors:
- Internet connectivity
- Availability of coworking spaces
- Visa Requirements
- Presence of a nomadic community
- Any other personal needs or wants for your destination
Narrow down your list of possibilities to determine which cities have everything you’re looking for. Once you have decided on a location, it’s time to get into planning mode.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How am I getting to the airport?
- What documents do I need to fly?
- Do I need a visa to enter the country?
- How am I getting from the airport to my accommodation?
- Where is my accommodation?
- Do I need to get a new SIM card? If so, where do I get that?
- Do I need local currency?
Never leave things until the last minute. Remember Murphy’s Law? If you don’t, here’s a refresher: “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
This is not to say that you need to over plan and go ahead and book all your flights for the next year. Keep your plans loose and be open to change, but make sure that your immediate next steps are thought through. There is nothing worse than overpaying or getting stranded when it could be avoided.
Take advantage of the resources available to you
Digital nomadism and remote work get more popular year after year, so you will likely be able to find a community of like-minded people pretty much anywhere you go. Use this to your advantage to find out what life is like for nomads in a destination prior to going there. Watch YouTube videos, read blog posts, and use services like CitizenRemote to help you apply for your visas. Make things easier on yourself so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Check out Facebook groups or meetups for digital nomad events or backpacker get-togethers to make the transition into a new city easier. The network of digital nomads is much bigger than you’d think, so once you’re connected to it, you probably know someone that is either currently in or has gone to your next destination that can give you some advice.
Schedule in time for a digital detox
We are called digital nomads for a reason – all our work is done digitally. We spend so much time in front of the screen, and it can be hard to unplug from it all. Book in the time (put it in your calendar if you need to) where your phone and computer go away and you can unwind, relax and explore. Whether that’s taking a mid-day beach break, meditating, taking a morning walk through the woods, or after work exploring the town, hold yourself accountable.
Work is important but time away from tech and being present in the community is just as, if not more important.
Slow travel is the idea of slowing down and connecting to local people, the cultures, foods, music, and everything that makes a destination great. As digital nomads, we have all the time in the world, so we do not need to constantly be hopping from one city to the next. Slow travel is much more sustainable and better for the communities you are visiting. It’s also much better for you as a traveler and can help reduce the chance of travel burnout.
Taking your time in a destination and practicing slow travel can look different for everyone, but might mean two, three, or six months in a city to really put down roots and connect with it. Spending this much time somewhere before moving on to the next place allows you to understand the city, its people, and its customs. You are much more likely to build a community and get to know the area when you are taking things slow rather than stopping in for a few nights. And that’s the joy of being a digital nomad in the first place.
Use apps and tools to work and live more effectively
The digital nomad lifestyle means juggling tons of things at once. Not only are you working, but you are finding accommodation, booking flights, managing money, handling insurance, and trying to enjoy your time; each of which can be time-consuming and take their toll over time. Use the apps and tools available to you to optimize your time and make things easier. You do not have to reinvent the wheel – you just need to use it.
Try out these apps to work and live much more efficiently as a digital nomad:
Cloud storage apps
To find out about visas and how to apply
Create a routine and stick to it
One of the main things that affects your mental health as a digital nomad is the lack of routine. It’s hard to establish a routine when you are moving around, and that can lead to instability and chaos which negatively impacts mental health. Having a routine that you can stick to as you travel can help you feel grounded even when you are in a new part of the world. Something as simple as waking up, stretching, having a coffee, and meditating or reading can be enough to set you up for success. Having a similar routine at night will make sure you start and end your day on a positive note.
We recommend adding these morning or nighttime routines to your calendar, so you stick to them. They can be easy to forget or skip but establishing these routines can help fight jet lag and make you feel much more settled.
Build a community
Loneliness can have a negative impact on mental health as a digital nomad, which is why creating community is so important. It can also give you the opportunity to decompress from work and enjoy time with like-minded people. There are so many digital nomads out there, you just have to find them. We highly recommend sites like Meetup to find digital nomad groups in your city. You can also find special interest groups like language exchanges, LGBTQ+ meetups, festivals, or book clubs to connect with people on a different level.
The longer you travel full time the bigger your community will get. The world is huge, but it is also small, and as you meet more people, you will start crossing paths with them in unexpected ways. The most important thing for your mental health as a digital nomad is to have a great community in your city and around the world so you never feel lonely.
Mental health tips for digital nomads
Mental health for digital nomads is a relatively new topic, so we hope these tips have been helpful for you on your journey. We can all do a better job of taking care of ourselves. This lifestyle works very well for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t experience burnout.
Plan things out to avoid mishaps, use resources and apps that are at your disposal, step away from the tech, take your time, create a healthy routine, and build a community. If you follow these mental health tips as a digital nomad, you will set yourself up to truly thrive in this lifestyle.