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Can becoming a digital nomad help fight your anxiety and depression?


by @noam_lightstone | 5yr  | 13 comments

Hey guys, I officially became a nomad in February, moving to HCMC in Vietnam. Now Iโ€™m living in Chiang Mai.

I used to suffer from really bad anxiety and depression, and have a blog that helps people who deal with them.

I wondered: could becoming a digital nomad help with these mental issues?

For the pro-side, you get to travel, meet so many people, see more things than many could hope to see in their entire lifeโ€ฆ

On the against-side, you have stress of sometimes not having money if youโ€™re just starting out, loneliness/isolation, problem with integrating into a new culture, etc.

Wanted to get you guysโ€™ opinions and thoughts. Do you think this lifestyle can help or hurt? Why or why not?

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Travelling can make your depression worse if you lose support networks. Generally speaking travelling acts as a catalyst for feelings. It might help if you are escaping some kind of abuse or toxic environment, otherwise, you shouldnโ€™t expect travel to fix mental health issues.

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@carolyngraceelliott and @Ani I know what you mean - Iโ€™m originally from Ottawa/Toronto in Canada, where the winter isโ€ฆ brutal. At times -30C and snowstorms.

Now in Chiang Mai - rains for 2 hours maybe once every 2-3 weeks, 1.5 months of burning season where you hop to Bangkok or an island. Otherwise nothing but clear skies and sunshineโ€ฆ Talk about a mood booster!

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@sylow | 5yr

I am in Netherlands for next 3 months and I already feel cloudy/rainy days and cold are effecting my mood. I was in Turkey for 6 months before coming here, it boosted my mood.
Weather/Sun is one thing to lift me up but more important to deal with my downs is that to be among friends and/or friendly people.

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@carolynhoney | 5yr

In my case it helps tremendously since I have really really bad season depression and autumn and winter in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was just brutal for meโ€ฆ now Iโ€™m in Bali, itโ€™s hot and sunny every day, and Iโ€™ve got zero depressionโ€ฆ which is just so so so good.

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@ani_goes_tweet | 5yr

That has been an issue for me in Britain as well, especially after summer 2012 (the summer of nonstop downpours) followed by the winter of 2012/2013 (the extremely cold (for Britain) winter that did not end until โ€ฆ May? We still had snow in April!). I donโ€™t know how long itโ€™s going to take for me to recover from that, and Iโ€™m not sure that I ever will!

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@jacobjay | 5yr

It depends upon oneself. Iโ€™m sure most of us were โ€˜trappedโ€™ in some way before becoming nomads, and the process of discovering that the nomadic freedom has a decision-making and social cost can be a significant initial hurdle (freedom is scary!). Yet if you can adapt, then itโ€™s definitely a part of a solution.

The lifestyle is not the solutionโ€”but a medium that exposes us to things that help us develop, which if used in conjunction with an understanding of and the ability to learn about how the world works, and our role in it, can transform us. Sometimes this comes organically, as a philosophy [I recommend Stoicism ;)], other times you might need help and guidance (strangers, friends or professionals).

As in another thread about the โ€œtiersโ€ of nomads, there are different types amongst us and one shouldnโ€™t pursue any other approach than the one you are comfortable with (by which I mean, not pushing too far out from your comfort zone, but nonetheless not staying within it!). For example moving every 2 weeks is going to have significant impact, you probably wonโ€™t find the social connections that provide support, but on the other hand it means you can make mistakes, learn from them, and โ€˜run awayโ€™ to start again without anxiety following you (maybe!). Over time you can spend longer in places and build relationships with โ€˜normalโ€™ people. (We need both, otherwise thereโ€™ll always be bits missing; just surrounding oneself with other โ€˜digital nomadsโ€™ would be horribly insular on a long-term basis.)

I left Europe and shifted to India, which for me this was outside my comfort zone but I now consider myself a better person for those experiences, and I definitely conquered fears that being normal in Europe didnโ€™t help with.

Youโ€™ve pretty much covered it in your blog post :slight_smile:

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@gigigriffis | 5yr

As everyone is saying above, I think it depends very much on the person and how the illness manifests for them and what its psychological roots are.

For me, traveling full-time helped me recognize a number of things about my anxiety and depression and cope better with them. Itโ€™s like anything in life, sometimes if you look at it from a different angle, against a different backdrop, or with different pressures, you can find a new angle on it. There was also a certain triumph in having the strength despite my depression to do something just for me. And thatโ€™s what traveling full-time was. It was something I wanted to do for no other reason than I thought it might bring me some joy. Just taking that step was a really powerful thing.

Does that mean travel cured me? Definitely no. But would I say it has helped? Overall, yes.

As @Levelsio points out above, travel in and of itself is, of course, not a cure for true chemical depression, but can it be good for you just like breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, healthy eating, dancing, or animal companionship can be good for you? Sure. Could it also be bad, especially if your anxiety is of the social variety? Sure. I think the key at the end of the day is that travel in and of itself doesnโ€™t cure all ills and that the best course of action is always to seek help outside ourselves (therapy, etc.) as well as through our own efforts.

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Thanks for writing guys.

For what most of you are saying, thatโ€™s pretty much the conclusion I reached on my blog, i.e., it depends and can change through the weeks. But, overall, I think itโ€™s USUALLY positive in helping.

This is what I wrote on my blog. I posted a link to my original discussion, mods removed it. Maybe they thought it was spammy? Putting it here again and mods, sorry if thatโ€™s the case and I guess feel free to take it down: http://lightwayofthinking.com/does-becoming-digital-nomad-help-fight-anxiety-depression/, just trying to provide some context of my thoughts.

Stressful VISA situation? Anxiety up. New temple to see? Depression down. No friends for a week while there? Depression up.

I agree, like @youjindo mentioned on her blog, many shady folks sell this lifestyle as a cure all, or like the best thing since sliced breadโ€ฆ when it has itโ€™s own problems and wonโ€™t heal you if youโ€™re still broken inside.

โ€œWhere you go, there you areโ€. You take your problems with you.

However overall, with the amount of opportunities and growth, I can personally say itโ€™s pushed me and made me overall a happier person. Still have my down days (actually, one as of writing this), but theyโ€™re far fewer when I look at whatโ€™s going on and surrounding me (beautiful weather, people, temples, clean air, business opportunities, etc.).

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@eduardezeanu | 5yr

As with most things in life, it depends :smile:

Becoming a digital nomad does change your surrounding environment, which can have a palpable influence on your mood. But what direction this influence will take in your case depends on the specifics of this environment change.

If, for instance, becoming a digital nomad takes you away from toxic people in your life, it may provide some welcomed relief and improve your happiness. If on the other hand it pulls you away from meaningful and supportive relationships in your life and throws you into social isolation, thatโ€™s almost certain to make you more depressed.

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@levelsio | 5yr

As this thread shows: I'm burn out and severely depressed from being a nomad, what should I do?

Probably not.

Trying to seek a solution to depression outside yourself is probably not a long term solution. It works marvelously on the short term though.

The best cure for depression is professional help. Obviously improving your environment helps. Flying to the other side of the world is not always a long term improvement though. As you say, isolation etc.

Iโ€™m very positive about the freedom all of this gives but one of the biggest problems the digital nomad scene is facing right now is that itโ€™s presented as a cure-all to any of lifeโ€™s problems.

That only hurts its reputation once people figure out it doesnโ€™t change many things long term.

At the end of the day, youโ€™re still you, you canโ€™t get away from that.

So deal with it and seek professional help. Depression is a disease.

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@kalitherapy | 5yr

As previously pointed out terms like โ€œanxietyโ€ and โ€œdepressionโ€ are broad mental health concepts (which get thrown around a lot). They all exist upon a continuum and have various biopsychosocial origins. Itโ€™s important for people to educate themselves on the root causes of their particular issues, as well as what might help. Nothing is a panacea.

It also depends on your personality, I find I thrive when faced with adversity. Other people, especially if they have conquered few challenges in life can crumple when faced with just a little adversity. Which is why building psychological resilience is key, whether your nomading or not. The more challenges you overcome, the easier it will be to face the next (one builds upon the next). I find having and developing a specific personal philosophy to base your life upon and work from are also important. This can help keep you centered when all around you is chaos. Tim Ferris has talked about Stoicism doing this for him many times, as well as other writers.

So in answer to your questionโ€ฆyes and no.

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@dvc | 5yr

I think it really depends on oneโ€™s personal situation. Mental health issues are very complex, and I can imagine moving abroad having a positive or negative effect: anything from a cure, to a slight improvement (my case), to a worsening caused by additional stress (some people just donโ€™t travel well).

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@ani_goes_tweet | 5yr

In my case it really does help, because being stuck in one place gives me anxiety. Iโ€™m also able to choose places that enable me to better engage in the activities that make me feel good - hiking, spending time in nature, engaging with other cultures/languages. It also helps in terms of earning enough money, as โ€˜homeโ€™ (London) is extremely expensive and I couldnโ€™t afford to live in a broom closet there (and if I did I would quickly have to get onto meds and start counselling). So for me being a nomad is the best possible choice!

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Read and participate in 13,974 discussions on Nomad List

Suggested topics

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What is the best online insurance for digital nomads ?


by @berberos | 4d 4 days ago | 4 comments

Hi guys ! hope you are doing well.

I would love to get your feedback regarding the best insurance for digital nomads. i'm traveling around Asia since 1 year and for next 4 or 5 years. Would love to buy an insurance to cover especially :

- health

- laptop, phone ...

- Flights

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Any nomads working on startups?

 

by @mattlock | 4mo 3 months ago | 33 comments

Hoping to see all the cool stuff people are working on while they live an extraordinary life.

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Any Ph.D students dissertating while a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 4mo 4 months ago | 5 comments

Anyone know of any groups or resources for Ph.D. students working on dissertation while living as a digital nomad? I know there are several virtual writing groups around, but wondered if there were any specifically for digital nomads, particularly those who are dissertating.

Thanks!

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Does international health insurance for digital nomads exist?

 

by @al_steffen | 5mo 4 months ago | 59 comments

Hey Nomads!

Iโ€™m looking for an international health insurance (no travel insurance) for my nomadic life. It should cover the basic services and at least be accepted in the EU (itโ€™s ok if itโ€™s not accepted in the US as Iโ€™m aware they rarely are). Nice to have: enter into a contract online. Anyone got a good experience or a recommendation?

Thanks in advance!

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What is the gender split on NomadList?


by @iamhopeless | 5mo 4 months ago | 1 comment

Just curious. What percentage of men vs women are on here.

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How do you invest internationally as a nomad?


by @mateuszwieloch | 5mo 5 months ago | 17 comments

I have finally saved enough money to start investing. What company gives good, diversified access to stock, ETFs and mutual funds? Does it make sense to use company like Vanguard or Fidelity for that? Iโ€™m a EU/Poland citizen, how would I transfer my money back and forth without incurring significant fees?

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I dream of being a digital nomad? How do I do it?


by @programmingmark | 6mo 5 months ago | 2 comments

Hello digital nomad!

I dream of being an independent digital nomad. But it feels very elusive & unattainable with my success rate. In full disclosure, whilst I have dreamed about making money online since high school; I have not earned a single cent making money online. $0, nada, zilch!! On the contrary, I have spent a lot of time & money on books, podcasts. Even though I have spent a lot of time reading/listening to others, I do not have anything to show for it!

I have made attempts in the past to start an online business, but these fizzle out quite quickly when I do not see traction especially when the goal I have set myself is too high.

Instead of reaching for the ultimate nomadic lifestyle goal, I want to start much smaller. Really small! I am simply looking to make $50 profit per month from a new online business. Thatโ€™s it.

I need some advice from you please!

  • Is $50 profit too low? How long did it take you to earn $50 profit per month?

  • What is a good way of achieving this goal?

Thanks
Mark
aka the $0 online business entrepreneur

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Are there any nomad meetups in Osaka?


in Osaka, Japan by @freddychanut | 6mo 6 months ago | 1 comment

Will be in Osaka this April/May and was curious to discover interesting groups/events.
I had a look at FB + Meetup but there doesnโ€™t seem to be much. Any advice on where to look?

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How do digital nomads pay tax?


by @rodriigovieira | 6mo 6 months ago | 19 comments

Hello everyone! Iโ€™m new here and probably this is a very newbie question, but it doesnโ€™t leave my head.

How do you, nomads, pay your taxes? I mean, if youโ€™re constantly traveling, how are you going to pay taxes for a certain country if you are going to stay there a short period of time?
Or do you return to your โ€œoriginal countryโ€ and then pay them?

By the way, this forum has very nice cool formatting features! :smile:

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Are there nomad families here and how do you choose your next destination?


by @martinratinaud | 7mo 6 months ago | 4 comments

All members of my family has different needs and hobbies so how do you pick the perfect places?

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My first time nomad-ing... Spain or Portugal?


in Portugal by @jasraj | 7mo 6 months ago | 6 comments

Hey everyone,

Iโ€™m a freelance + nomad newbie, off for my 1st proper trip in May. Iโ€™m wanting to spend a month somewhere and go from there.

I just came back from Slovenia/Ljubljana and loved it there (just a week). I donโ€™t mind โ€œsleepierโ€ places par-say, as long as theyโ€™re close to a beach or nature of some kind. In fact, I kinda like places less-busy and a bit smaller/cosier.

Iโ€™m been swaying towards Porto, but have been impressed by the rave reviews Iโ€™ve seen for Valencia.

-> Have you every nomad-ed in a Spanish/Portuguese city? Iโ€™d love to know where and what you liked/disliked :slight_smile:

Thanks! :slight_smile:

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How to save filter settings on Nomad List?


by @krzemian | 7mo 7 months ago | 3 comments

Hey, is there currently a way to save filter settings? I feel like it would be helpful for planning the trip as I have several ideas on what to target and would like to cycle between them

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Anyone know an accountant for Canadian nomads/expats?


by @noam_lightstone | 7mo 7 months ago | 16 comments

Hey guys, this was my first year as a Canadian nomad.

As far as I know of, Canadians donโ€™t pay taxes if they do not live in the country for 6 months.

But Iโ€™d like to talk to an accountant or someone who does Canadian taxes specifically for expats and nomads to get clear on the rules and for help on my return coming up.

Does anyone know someone who specializes in Canada who can help? Iโ€™ve seen plenty of US recommendations but none for us canucks.

Thanks guys!

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Best place for Digital Nomad in Latin America?


by @rose_davis | 8mo 8 months ago | 7 comments

Hi!

I am planning to move to Latin America for 3-4 months (Oct-January). Iโ€™ve narrowed down 6 different places that I want to visit before committing to settling down, but Iโ€™d love to get some community input.

Here are the cities Iโ€™m considering:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Medellin, Columbia
  • Cartagena, Columbia
  • Antigua, Guatemala
  • San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala

The most important things Iโ€™m looking for:

  • Fast/easily accessible internet
  • Easy to meet other nomads/make friends in general
  • Safe for women
  • Some sort of spiritual community (Iโ€™m also a yoga teacher)
  • Easily walkable city

Anyone have any experience with these places and can give some insight? Iโ€™m also completely open to other recommendations.

Thanks!
Rose

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Where are the nomads in Mexico City?


in Mexico City, Mexico by @shellyfish | 9mo 8 months ago | 9 comments

I just landed as a n00b digital nomad in Mexico City, and I am wonderingโ€ฆ Where are all the international digital nomads hiding around here? I have been to several coworking spaces (Selina etc.) only to find A LOT of local Mexican workers and businesses. Donโ€™t get me wrong, that is all fine, but I was hoping to meet some international nomads! Any advice?

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How do we solve housing for digital nomads?

 

by @levelsio | 9mo 8 months ago | 61 comments

Thereโ€™s been a lot of discussion on this recently.

Nomads usually stay in hostels, hotels and short-term apartments. But itโ€™s all not very optimal.

Iโ€™ve heard people suggest getting funding and building a network of houses you can stay at for a subscription price (e.g. Bruno Haid is working on that).

I donโ€™t want do physical stuff, so Iโ€™m thinking of building a platform around making housing better for nomads.

What are the housing problems nomads face? And how can we solve them with products/services?

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App/tool/service for nomads to bring things from another country?


by @brmolin | 10mo 10 months ago | 4 comments

I vaguely remember hearing about such a service before, but Iโ€™m drawing a blank on the name. Basically I left my tablet on a connecting flight in Europe, right before my main flight to Thailand. They have my tablet and are willing to ship it out for me, but people have warned me thereโ€™s a big risk of it getting โ€œlost in the mailโ€ if I ship something expensive like that to Thailand.

Iโ€™m wondering if thereโ€™s a service or community, where I can find a nomad whoโ€™s in Europe/heading to Thailand soon, so I can have it shipped to them in Europe and pay them to ferry it down here for me? I met someone in Budapest a ways back who had built something for this type of use-case, but I canโ€™t remember the name of it. Any help would be appreciated!

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Are there any nomads from India?

 

in India by @ankitdas123 | 10mo 10 months ago | 56 comments

I have seen a lot of posts from different people across the world, but not even a single post from someone in India, who has been a nomad, either living within the country or traveling to another one.

Would definitely love to hear stories from such people. We are a couple traveling as social nomads who are trying to bridge the gap between the rural and urban societies in India. We have started out very humble and do not have much resources, so looking out for help from the community.

Ankit & Rishika
Around Love and Life

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How is Sicily for digital nomads?


by @gaelm | 10mo 10 months ago | 15 comments

Hi all, I was looking for a cool spot in Southern Europe for winter and Iโ€™m considering Sicilyโ€ฆ Have you ever been there? If yes, how was your experience? If not, why?
thanks!

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How is Bari, Italy for digital nomads?


in Bari, Italy by @mitch_dina | 10mo 10 months ago | 7 comments

Greetings!
Does anyone have experience in Bari, Italy please? We are thinking of going from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari by boat in mid-March. Has anyone taken a boat across? Is it nice or can it be choppy? (We are trying to avoid planes, to reduce our carbon footprint, so adding more surface travel.) Also, any info you might be able to offer about Bari and the surrounds? Next step will likely be trains up Italy as the Spring progresses.

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