As traveling became a very popular trend, being a digital nomad is considered by many as the ultimate dream. On social media, you can find hundreds and maybe thousands of influencers constantly posting pictures of their “location independent dream life”, while many others are ready to sell you programs and coachings to help you accomplish your dream and become a digital nomad.
However, behind the scenes of picturesque mountains and tropical beaches, some reality can remain hidden and untold. It is not on social media that you will find out about the depression and struggles of some digital nomads. Many of them can easily be trapped in isolation and distress, and some of them would turn to online psychologists to seek help in order to overcome psychological problems. As a digital nomad and an online psychologist myself, I can tell you about some of the challenges digital nomads can face in terms of mental health.
Isolation and loneliness
Digital nomads are more exposed to isolation and loneliness than those who permanently live surrounded by a stable social structure. Far from their families and long-time friends, digital nomads can easily be trapped into short-term and superficial relationships. So when things are going well, those relations seem valuable and pleasant, but once things start to go bad, they find very few people to turn to. Hence, the risk of isolation, loneliness and depression is amplified. The mental suffering of digital nomads can be very silent and invisible. If you are suffering from loneliness read my article Heal your loneliness in 5 steps!
Most digital nomads are freelancers and their revenues can be subject to ups and downs. Considering that digital nomads have to repeatedly deal with borders and visas regulations, their cost of living fluctuates from one country to the other, and they have to pay flights and visa fees to be able to maintain legal status. So it is not always easy for them to make enough money to cover their expenses. For those who are successful, their success did not come without hard work, and it does not mean that it has been always easy for them. And for those who are less successful, they have very limited financial security and support they could turn to.
Stress and anxiety
Traveling when you go on vacation can be a source of stress and excitement; that is a temporary and positive stress. But if you are almost constantly traveling, it can become more a source of stress than excitement. For many digital nomads, traveling is not only synonym of exploring new lands, but also of adapting to a new cost of living, a new culture, finding affordable accommodation and place to work, adapting to a new kind of food, building a new network of relationships… It is as if you have to leave everything behind, and start over again. Fatigue and stress can easily build up, making such a life threatened by anxiety disorder and burnout.
Online therapy for digital nomads
When digital nomads face mental health problems, it is hard for them to find professional and affordable help. They very rarely have health insurances that can pay for psychotherapies or for counseling sessions. The only solution they have is to turn to online psychologists that speak their native language and can understand their concerns. But those online psychologists are not always affordable, and many digital nomads opt for dealing with their problems by themselves, or going back to their home countries to seek further social support and professional help. But this decision to go back is often an additional source of distress and anxiety, as it can be seen as a sign of failure and surrender. That is also a trap where digital nomads can find themselves; between the choice of suffering in isolation, or facing the critics and the misjudgements of their native societies.