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Digital Nomad: Your Seven Essential Lifehacks

Digital Nomad: Your Seven Essential Lifehacks

Whether you’re a digital nomad already, or somebody who is just toying with the idea of taking the plunge, these essential lifehacks will help as you carry on down your path.

I myself lived on the edges of the digital nomad world for years before finally going all in just under one year ago. In fact, I’d not even heard of the term digital nomad until some guys I work with suggested that I write a book for them based on my experiences. A savvy English girl repeated the term to me very shortly after during our first conversation together next to the Indian Ocean. I liked the sound of it, it felt right, and I was happy that I was on my way to becoming one.

Below is a concise and in no way exhaustive list of some of the things that I’ve learnt in my first year as a fully signed-up digital nomad. Alongside some of the other complimentary knowledge I already had after living the best parts of my adult life on the road.

A Good Freelance Platform

Unless you’ve got a trust fund, you’re going to need to make money. If you’ve got a trust fund, you have no need to be a digital nomad in the first place. A digital nomad is defined by their necessity to work. The big difference between a digital nomad and a traditional worker being that the former does not need to carry out their role in any one fixed place.

In most instances, digital nomads are freelancers working remotely. There are many roles that could be covered under this umbrella, but the common denominator is that you’re going to need a reliable freelance platform to source work.

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I personally use Upwork, which has provided me a really solid stream of work since they took over Elance last year. This is probably the biggest platform out there, and their customer service is excellent, but the recent hike in commission to 20% on the first $500 earned is a little hard to swallow.

Freelancer.com is also a decent platform but the quality of work available doesn’t seem to match up to Upwork’s all that well. People per Hour also has its charms, but not in the way they seem to constantly go out of their way to get you to pay to have your proposals featured.

A Simple But High Quality Wardrobe

The digital nomad life is a lot more than just about the work. It’s a lifestyle choice and the nomadic part demands that you’l often be on the road. When you decide to go all in on this, you must realise that your wardrobe needs to be reduced accordingly. There’s nothing worse than arriving in a new place and having to lug an overly heavy case around with you.

Before you get to the wardrobe, you need to purchase a high quality backpack. And this needn’t be one that would get you to the top of Everest. A 60+20 liter capacity will be more than sufficient. This will give you plenty of space to carry your clothes and essentials, while the detachable rucksack will be ideal for carrying your laptop or Macbook as hand luggage, or when you’re buzzing around your current city of choice.

Clothes, shoes, and all the other basics need to be kept as exactly that, but you should think about quality over cost in some instances. I used to get through three or four pairs of “cheap” jeans every year until I realised that it might make more sense paying a little bit more for something that would last longer. This has worked out for me so far and i’m sure that it could apply to other often-worn essential clothing items too.

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Decent Sunglasses That Actually Protect Your Eyes

The freedom to work where you want is often the main motivation for the digital nomad. In most cases this will mean that you also want to work somewhere where the sun shines a bit more often than it does in your home town.

I spent years buying cheap sunglasses that on many occasions lasted me a long time, but i’m pretty sure the protection they offered my eyes wasn’t all that great. As with the above advice on backpacks and certain clothing items, there is a lot to be said for spending a little bit more than you normally would to ensure that you are getting superior quality. Just make sure you get a hard case for them too as they will getting knocked about quite a bit every time you set off for somewhere new.

The Best Currency Card Available

It is absolutely essential that you do your upmost to make sure that you lose as little as possible on currency conversions. Clearly this doesn’t apply if you are travelling around your own country as a digital nomad but it is a big deal if, like me, you’re often making money in dollars, converting them into pounds, and then spending in euros.

Luckily there are a number of excellent options out there at the moment. The best for my mind is Revolut in the UK but this is an ever increasingly competitive market with more and more options appearing on the market all the time.

An extra smart little hack is to also download the XE Currency Convertor app to your phone. This way you can always double check that your card is giving you the rate that it should be.

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An Awesome Co-Working Space

Cafes are a great place for free wi-fi and to do some local people watching, but they are hardly conducive to a full day’s concentrated work session. Your home might seem like the ideal location to work, until you realise just how easy it is to get distracted there. These places can be a great resource from time to time, but you need to find a good co-working space if you’re settling in a place for a while and need to get some serious work done.

Luckily for the digital nomad are more and more amazing co-working spaces opening all over the world every day. With business going increasingly on-line and companies realising that there is no need to invest in a office all of your own when you’re finding your feet, co-working spaces are the perfect solution for young professionals and the digital nomad everywhere.

The great advantage for a digital nomad here is that most co-working spaces offer flexi-desks that can be taken on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis with no long-term commitment. A good co-working space will provide for all of your working needs with high-speed internet, printing access, comfortable common areas, kitchens, free coffee, and 24/7 access all being pretty standard in the better places.

Not only does a co-working space provide you with the tools and impetus you need to push on with your work, but you will find yourself surrounded by other like-minded individuals. Not only will these people often prove to be an inspiration, but it is also quite common for you to be able to pool your resources and generate work from each other.

Good Friends

Once you become a digital nomad, you will essentially live your life on the road. What this often means is that you will give up any house or apartment that you had when you were living more traditionally. For this reason it is essential for you to maintain good relationships with all of your old friends as they will prove invaluable when you are looking for a place to stay when you head back to your old haunts.

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Unfortunately it may also be true that you find yourself coming up against a little bit of resentment from your old friends once you go down the digital nomad path. This is only natural as some people can’t help but feel a bit jealous when they see you living it up on the beach in the winter while they are stuck in the cold commute to the office.

A Digital Nomad Support Network

There is no point in sugar coating it, the life of a digital nomad is not always a bed of roses. Freelancing can be irregular to say the least, and no matter how much you love life on the road, there will still be many times when you miss your old friends and family members.

For this reason you must take advantage of the contacts that you will undoubtedly make with any other digital nomad that crosses your path. These interactions will remind you that you are not alone and give you that little push to keep at it. We may still be in the minority but the digital nomad life is one that more and more people are taking up everyday. The digital nomad community is growing and it will always be there to offer you support when you need it.

Self-belief, determination, motivation, and discipline are going to be just some of the key traits that you need to have in bucket loads if you are going to make it as a digital nomad, but you will get there. You are special, my digital nomad friend, and as long as you don’t lose faith, you will soon be making a success of things and living the kind of life that you had only ever dreamed about having before.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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