Key takeaways from this article:
Short on time? Here are some key takeaways from this blog:
- Exercise to your schedule.
- Quality sleep = full reset.
- Remember to stay hydrated.
- Eat unprocessed foods.
- Aim for better posture.
- Take active breaks.
- Prioritise your health.
- Check for recommended vaccinations.
- Keep an eye on sunlight exposure.
- Manage stress.
- Write about your travels.
- Catch up with friends and family.
- Give slow travel a try.
- Don’t forget your hobbies.
How do I stay healthy as a digital nomad?
To put together this list, we’ve taken notes from our own experiences, as well as other digital nomads we’ve met on our travels. It’s amazing how many habits we once had at home, like keeping up with exercise, can quickly fall away when we’re out travelling.
Here are 14 habits we think are really important to work on as a digital nomad. Try out a few and see how you get on!
1) Exercise to your schedule
We all know just how important exercise is, but it’s still something that many of us let fall by the wayside when living as digital nomads.
It’s easy to slip into the bad habit of spending more time in a chair than we do outside, which over the long run isn’t good for our physical health at all.
On the other hand, you’d be happy to know that a good fitness routine doesn’t necessarily have to involve hours of heavy cardio or lifting weights every day. Nor does it mean you need to sign up for a gym the moment your plane touches down.
Here are a few simple exercises that you can fit into your busy routine:
- 30 minutes of walking per day
- Relaxing and fun yoga classes
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift
- 10-minute bodyweight exercise routine
Feel free to mix and match or just pick one! As with any exercise routine, the most important part is to focus on consistency.
2) Quality sleep = full reset
There’s no doubt about it. Maintaining a good sleep schedule will help you to feel fresher and ready to tackle every day head-on. But you already know that – so how do you make sure you stick to a quality sleep schedule as a digital nomad?
Studies show that, on average, we need around 8 hours of sleep per night to feel rested. However, it’s not just about getting enough sleep, but making sure we have high-quality sleep.
Put together a high-quality sleep schedule with the following tips:
- Try to avoid screens at least 30 minutes before bed. The longer, the better!
- Make your pre-sleep routine enjoyable and relaxing! Consider lighting a candle or two, putting on some calming music that you enjoy, and letting your thoughts wind down.
- Stick to a regular time for sleeping, this helps your body understand when it’s time to shut up shop for the day.
3) Remember to stay hydrated
Drinking water does incredible good for our bodies, helping us maximise our physical and mental performance – not a bad thing to aim for as a digital nomad on the go!
While scientists have now debunked the old 8 glasses of water per day myth, the underlying message of drinking more water per day remains a good one.
Only 6% of UK people are properly hydrated, and it’s a similar story elsewhere across the globe. So what can we do?
- Carry a water bottle. The simple fact of having water easily accessible to you can help a lot, especially when you’re busy putting together a presentation for your next big pitch.
- Read about the benefits. One of the best ways to start drinking more water is to get interested in the topic! Here are two interesting articles to get you started:
4) Eat unprocessed foods
We could write for hours about how proper nutrition is life-changing, but we’ll save you time today with our key takeaways (pun intended!).
As a digital nomad, it can be tempting to go out every day and enjoy street food, restaurants and more. It’s a fantastic way to experience the local food culture and local cuisine, however it may not be the best way to look after your health.
Rather than confining yourself to a strict diet of boiled rice and never leaving your apartment, here are a few ways that you can enjoy yourself as a digital nomad without putting on the pounds:
- Look out for healthy meals at local restaurants, it’s often not as hard as you think!
- Cooking your own food gives you more control over what you eat. You can also make it a social activity by inviting other digital nomads over for dinner.
- A healthy diet is a varied one. It’s not the end of the world if you do try that scrumptious-looking toffee, as long as it’s not every day!
- Prepare your own meals ahead of dinner time.
- Bring a healthy snack with you to fuel your adventures, whether it’s a fruit salad or a rice bowl that you’ve made up at home.
5) Aim for better posture
Like so many kids, I was drilled by my mother into having a better posture at the dinner table. Now, all these years later, I can see how important that message was.
Away from the dinner table, having a better posture impacts so many aspects of our lives. From improving our mental health to helping us stave off chronic health conditions, taking a moment every so often to consciously correct your posture is always a good idea.
6) Take active breaks
Have you ever experienced a stated when you become totally immersed in your work? It’s known as the flow state, and continues to be a hot topic among productivity gurus.
And yet, while our minds may love this mental exercise, our bodies argue the opposite. Sitting too long has been suggested by experts to be a risk factor for early death – ouch!
Thankfully, it has also been proposed that taking a mini break roughly once every half an hour can offset any negative effects of sitting too long.
Here’s a practical guide to taking active breaks while working, following the Pomodoro technique:
- Step 1: Set an alarm for 25 minutes from now.
- Step 2: Commit to your work for these 25 minutes until your alarm goes off.
- Step 3: Take a 5-minute active break where you get up and do something, whether that’s getting a glass of water, doing some stretches, or saying hi to a family member or friend.
- Step 4: After 5 minutes, start back at step 1 and repeat as many times as desired!
7) Prioritise your health
Digital nomad life is full of wonderful new experiences that can have you wondering “just where did the time go?” Amidst all the action, it can be quite a shock when we’re faced with sudden health challenges.
When that happens, it’s easy to let pride or anxiety get the best of you. Often we convince ourselves that we would be better off waiting it out.
- If you’re feeling ill, don’t be afraid to speak to your local doctor or international doctor if one is available. Although it may not be anything serious, it’s better to be on the safe side.
- It’s a good idea to search for an international doctor when you move to a new place, so you know where to go in case of an issue.
8) Check for recommended vaccinations
Information about recommended vaccinations is often available on your government website – we strongly suggest you look these up before departing on your trip.
Give yourself plenty of time between getting your vaccination and actually leaving on your trip. Doctors often recommend allowing a few weeks between receiving the vaccination and departing.
You can also view this website which provides a comprehensive list of recommended vaccinations for countries across the globe.
9) Keep an eye on sunlight exposure
Who doesn’t love spending some time in the sun? It’s the best way we can get vitamin D, which has a whole host of benefits.
But like all things, there can be too much of a good thing. Did you know that we only need 5–15 minutes per day, and only slightly more if you’re darker skinned? Any more than that without the proper protection can start to cause damage.
Too much sunlight can make your skin age faster as well as put you at a higher risk of skin cancer, even before you show obvious signs of sunburn. Here are a few tips on how you can protect yourself.
- Opt for an SPF 15 or higher sun cream whenever you head outside in sunny areas.
- Wear sunglasses that are polarised to help protect your eyes.
- Wearing a brimmed hat can help protect your skin further.
10) Manage stress
Stress is a word that gets thrown around a lot in today’s world, and we’re no strangers to it as digital nomads. Living and working abroad can bring up its own set of challenges, which can be stressful whether it’s your first time or tenth time living abroad.
Thankfully, stress levels are something that we can manage – doing so will keep us happier and healthier as we work and explore our new destination. So, what can we do?
- Take time to unwind – Many of us would jump at the chance to tell our friends and loved ones to take it easy if they are feeling stressed, yet ironically we often don’t give ourselves the same treatment. Take a moment to treat yourself the same way – taking even a short break away from a screen or work can help to keep stress levels in check.
- Connect with like-minded people – Travel, especially when solo, can potentially be quite a lonely experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Nowadays, there are plenty of apps (such as Meetup) where you can meet like-minded people abroad doing fun activities. We highly recommend it!
11) Write about your travels
One of the most powerful mental health hacks a digital nomad has in their arsenal is journaling.
Not only is it a fantastic way of documenting your travels for your future self to read, but writing through the challenges you are facing can help you come to terms with them. It will also help you keep your thoughts from spiralling out of control.
- The key when writing your journal is to be honest with yourself.
- Don’t feel you have to write everything down on paper. There are also plenty of free journaling apps that you can use as well.
- At the end of the week, look through the past week’s entries and note any frequent thoughts/feelings that you’ve been having. That can be a sign of an issue you’ll need to work through.
12) Catch up with friends and family
Spending time away from our loved ones can be hard, but with all the tech we have today, it’s easier than ever to catch up and share stories of your adventures so far.
Even a short 5-10 minute call can do so much for your mental health, giving you a great boost to the day.
Of course, we can’t expect our family and friends to stop what they’re doing at the drop of a hat (especially if there’s a time difference involved), so put aside some time every week to catch up.
13) Give slow travel a try
Digital slowmadism continues to be one of the hottest topics in the 2023 nomad space, and for good reason too!
We’ve already written a handy guide on digital slowmadism – but in short, digital slowmadism is all about taking your time as you travel, spending more time exploring your destination.
Here are just a few of the benefits that digital slowmadism has to offer:
- Get a deeper appreciation of local culture, cuisine, and more.
- Build lasting relationships with other nomads and spend time doing activities together.
- It’s environmentally friendly, as you spend less time travelling and flying.
14) Don’t forget your hobbies
As we’ve seen, travel can quite easily disrupt our day-to-day routines, which is why we need to work hard to maintain them.
Our favourite hobbies form a core part of who we are – yet they are often put on the shelf as we travel. We tend to think that travel will be enough to keep us occupied, and find out the hard way that it’s not always the case.
So, to help keep us grounded and enjoying our favourite hobbies, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What did I enjoy doing before I started travelling?
- How can I adapt my hobbies to fit my new digital nomad lifestyle?
- How can I make myself accountable for sticking to my hobbies? (Social media/friends/a blog etc)
- When can I make time for my hobbies? (Even a little time goes a long way)