It is a very weird time for digital nomads, as movement is so limited. The initial worry about our health has passed as we observe less people getting infected, although some people still worry. More of the thoughts now, has been directed to how the lock-down implemented in most countries is affecting our life and economy. I stay as an observant, but I do want to share some considerations for the mental health of which I can have an informed say. After many weeks of lock-down, we should have adjusted to a new routine. The acute adjustment phase is over now and we have a new sense of everyday life. In this situation, I want to stress three concerns.
- Life is happening now, don’t focus on the future: It is very likely, that we observe this situation as temporary. When something is temporary, we might not give it proper attention. Instead, we focus on the future, when things will return back to “normality.” This might cause us to neglect certain needs. It is true that certain needs the emerge during this crisis, or because of it, might no longer be there after it ends. However, the experience of it and the emotional reactions will always stay with us and inform future actions consciously or unconsciously. At this time, take good care of yourself and also don’t forget to work on your relationships. Don’t overlook needs of your family (especially if you have children) thinking that this will be resolved when you return to your previous lifestyle. If there had been and/or still are areas for improvement continue to work on improving them.
- Consider your personal differences: people are different. Coping skills we share are useful, but might not work for all. It’s important to know ourselves and our personality and act accordingly. One very basic trait of our personality is our orientation towards the world and other people, what we call introversion and extraversion. This refers, not only on how easily we relate to people, per the popular belief, but from where we get energy when we are tired or low. More introverted people need to stay alone to decompress, think, or empty their mind and recharge. More extraverted people need to interact with crowds, or groups of friends, participate in conversations, or just hear the noise and see the movement around them. This is how they will relax and rest. The time of lock-down might be particularly hard for more extraverted people, as they cannot gather with others. It could also be hard for introverted people, if they need to stay with a big family in the same place and they don’t have a personal space for themselves to stay alone. Or, it could be very easy for introverted people if they are alone, and this becomes a good opportunity to be creative. Give some attention to what you need to relax and respond accordingly.
- Expect emotions and thoughts: As the initial period has ended and some adjustment has settled, stress should abide. This might give space to thoughts about the situation and more complex emotional reactions. We might experience disappointment and maybe anger with what happens, either the virus or the response to it. It doesn’t have to always be rational. Bargaining whether our situation is a proper response to the threat or an exaggeration will come in, the idea of breaking the lockdown might emerge. Bargaining and anger might also emerge for personal issues. For some it might have already occurred. Constant thinking, unpleasant emotions, ruminations are disturbing and we normally tend to avoid them. Many people try to distract themselves from them, directing actions to other activities. This works temporarily, but on my professional understanding, most of the time, it backfires. It is a better technique to acknowledge the thoughts and emotions, than distract from them. By acknowledging it doesn’t mean that we validate them. A thought is just a thought and it might hold some truth, it might not. Observe what you think and feel and cope with them, so you feel secure and calm. Seek help, if these start to cause problem to your everyday life.
Stay safe and physically and mentally healthy. I hope you observe this whole situation, not as a burden, but as a new adventure, one of the many you have experienced in your travels.