Being a digital nomad is great. You’re off exploring the world and seem to be constantly on vacation. But the truth is you’re working hard and probably so busy trying to live an Instagram-worthy lifestyle that you’ve neglected to take care of yourself. On the road, routines and good habits are often forgotten, but you need to find time for them. It’s the little things that can make the biggest difference so stay healthy on the road by embracing these five simple self care changes.
1. Avoid loneliness by building and maintaining your network
The people you left behind would love to hear from you. You can be ambitious and send them postcards but a blog or regular email newsletter with photos and stories of your adventures would be great too. Engage with them on social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. They’ll be happy to hear about your new, exciting life and be delighted to know you haven’t moved on from them, just from the place they still live.
It’s equally important to establish a network on the road. You can do this through local events, various Slack or Facebook groups or by joining a remote work travel group like Hacker Paradise. Whatever you choose, be sure to build a community on the ground so the only people you talk to on a daily basis aren’t colleagues far away or cafe workers. Both will like you but the odds of either joining you for dinner or a weekend trip are small.
2. Make sure your workspace and habits are ergonomic
It’s popular to be a minimalist on the road but spending your days hunched over your laptop isn’t worth it. Whether it’s figuring out a standing desk or carrying a laptop stand + keyboard/mouse, pick a solution and make it happen. You should also be stretching regularly to avoid carpal tunnel and to loosen up those tense muscles. Increasing your circulation and stretching your legs through regular strolls is also a good idea. If you’re drinking enough water, you’ll have to get up pretty often. If not, use a timer to remind yourself to get up and move around. And make a point of drinking more water.
3. Get enough sleep (7-8 hours nightly)
Everyone always says this but it doesn’t make it any less important. This is especially true on the road where you’re dealing with all sorts of extra stress from language barriers to figuring out where the heck ketchup is in your new grocery store. Sufficient sleep helps your body be more stress resilient and boosts your cognitive and physical functioning. If you can’t get enough sleep at night because you’re up too late or have to wake up too early to overlap your working hours with your home office, take naps. Squeeze in those ZZZs wherever you can because they really do make a difference.
You don’t have to turn into an ultra marathon runner just because you’re on the road but now is a great opportunity to try new things. If you’re in Playa del Carmen, Mexico or Bali, Indonesia, why not give surfing a try? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to dance and being in Argentina or India means there are an abundance of great tango or Bollywood dance classes to choose from. If you’d like to see more of nature, hiking is a great choice and there is nearly always a range of options difficulty-wise.
Your exercise adventures could lead to a new hobby and are a great way to meet people outside of the nomad circle. At worst, you discover you don’t actually care for that activity. At best, your body feels better, you have a new skill, new friends and a few great stories to share with your friends and family back home in your next blog post or newsletter.
5. Make time for play
It’s easy to feel pressured to spend all your time exploring or otherwise taking advantage of being in your current city or country, but the world won’t end if you skip going out one night or decline to join the sunrise hike this weekend. It’s okay to stay in and read a book or play a video game instead. It’s okay to go out to a movie or sleep in instead. Just because you’re in Florence doesn’t mean you have to see an opera if you don’t enjoy them. Go eat pizza with your friends instead, if that’s what you’ll have fun doing. Remember what makes you happy and block off time for those activities. Yes, it’s good to try new things and explore the place you are but there is no point being on the road if you’re miserable.