Guest Post by:
Sofia Correia Alegria | Clinical Psychologist and Health Coach
It is nice to leave, but it always feels better to return (home)”. I used to hear that a lot after a trip with my family, back in the days. I wasn’t sure about that then, but I know now how truthful that feels. I don’t mean that I see it in the same way my family used to. What I find is that “it is good to go”, find out about different cultures, emerge myself in many exciting new experiences, and “then come back” to myself, in a sort of improved version of who I want to be.
That is what I have most learned with my experience of being a nomad. I have moved countries four times and every time I experienced new challenges. The more struggles I found, the more I reflected on the importance of “coming back home”. You see, home is not necessarily a precise physical place, nor somewhere someone told you you belonged to.
Today, I wanted to share with you some thoughts on what can help you to be a nomad without feeling like an outsider. I have pin-pointed a few aspects that could potentially help the process of becoming a (digital) nomad:
1. Becoming a nomad is not always a choice, so make it your own choice HOW you take the most out of the experience. Dwelling on what you can’t change will most likely prevent you from being able to change it. That is one of the many paradoxes life has to offer. Embrace the change and you will feel proactivity and resilience sinking in.
2. Try and get inside the culture of your destination country/region as much as you can. Learn (a bit of) the language, explore the place and get familiar with its people and overall habits. The more you do this, the easier will it be for you to know the aspects with which you identify yourself and those with which you don’t. Also, it will help speed up the feeling of “fitting in”.
3. Social connectedness reduces loneliness and feelings of depression. We are all social animals, so one of the things you may find helpful is to get your own “Tribe”. Whether it is a workgroup, pottery classes, or an outdoor event, look for people who may have similar interests to yours and allow yourself to build a social network. Even during pandemic times, this still can happen while respecting imposed restrictions.
4. Keep a consistent and healthy routine. Travelling can be as exciting as tiring. It may be overwhelming not knowing the expiry date of your project or, on the other hand, knowing exactly you will have X amount of time to accommodate in a new city. Furthermore, and regardless of where you are, humans are creatures of habits, so keep those yoga classes, that morning walk in nature, or that video-call with family and friends on Sunday evenings. Note that small habits are also extremely important: coffee in the morning, maintaining your sleeping schedule, your meals time…
5. Learn the importance of setting S.M.A.R.T* goals. Having so much happening in a time of big changes, you may find yourself lost. You want to enjoy (and work) as much as possible and for that it is best to keep organized. Outline *specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based goals for following a daily, weekly, or monthly plan.
6. Find your sense of belonging. Focusing on a routine will not only give you a sense of stability but will also help you feel “in touch” with who you are as a person and maintain your sense of self. You will always find yourself in your values, your strengths and resources, your boundaries, and the ever-important ability of emotional intelligence and self-knowledge.
Each experience is unique and I hope you find this a beautiful journey. However, if you find yourself struggling, talk to people you have around you or, ultimately, find professional help to better manage the thoughts and emotions involved in the process.