Remote workers and digital nomads, are you in need of a digital detox? Adventure, awe, and adaptation – seems to be the most accurate description of the digital nomad lifestyle. They are remote workers who travel the world to explore its wonders. Sound highly rewarding, right? But everything comes with a price. In this case, it’s a poor work-life balance resulting from constantly changing environments and misusing technology.
Fortunately, we’re not trapped in this. Before you start to search remotely for solutions, I’d like to introduce to you the remedy – digital detox. But let me first give you a taste of what you’ll find in this article.
In this post, you will learn:
- What are the challenges of the travelling remote workers lifestyle
- What does neuroscience tell us about it
- How to manage this problem with Digital Detox
- Five life hacks to start an unplugged lifestyle while handling remote jobs
Ready to find your work-life balance in the digital world? So get started now.
Digital Nomad Challenges – why our minds can’t fully rest?
The above mem looks pretty gloomy, but it shows the truth: the inability to unplug is the biggest struggle for people wtih remote jobs. Numerous studies confirm what Internet users laugh about:
- Unplugging after work hours is the most prominent pain point for 40% of remote workers, according to the 2019 Remote.co study.
- As a result of Buffer’s 2021 survey, the majority (27%) of respondents said that the inability to unplug is their greatest WFH (Work From Home) challenge.
- 35% of the ordinarily office-based workers surveyed by trade union Prospect say their mental health has deteriorated since they started working from home during the pandemic. 4 on 10 of them claim it is due to the inability to switch off from work.
What about digital nomads, who spend their spare time exploring new exciting destinations? Michał Jońca, a travelling remote worker from PhotoAiD, shared with me his experience:
I experienced severe problems with unplugging from work. Even when I completed all my daily tasks, my mind couldn’t just leave the work behind and fully enjoy the fantastic views of Krabi province in Thailand. In the back of my mind, I always heard professional duties calling for my attention.
Other mental health and wellness articles of interest to digital nomads:
- How to get through Working in isolation
- 5 ways to relieve yourself from remote work exhaustion
- Working Remotely and the surprising mental health effects
- Ten incredible environmental benefits of working remotely
- How to shift to a slow work mentality
- 9 signs your remote workplace is toxic
Indeed, those who combine travel with work face the same problem as other remote workers.
- Inability to unplug from work is one of the top challenges digital nomads meet.
- Having trouble shutting down after the workday harms productivity for nearly a third of digital nomads.
Why does it happen? Some blame the always-on digital culture, but it’s not the whole truth. The origin of digital nomad fatigue is in our bodies – in our brains. Simply put, our brains are analog systems in digital reality. They aren’t adjusted to the buzzy digital world. The technological devices deliver too much stimulus, which arouses our brain every time we use them. Also, using smartphones releases dopamine in our brains – the hormone of pleasure that is secreted during successful social interactions. It’s an addictive neurotransmitter because feeling pleasure motivates us to keep it on the same level. So, we use smartphones to stimulate our reward pathways over and over again. The result? We overuse smartphones. Then we feel overstimulated and fatigued “without reason.”
Luckily, it’s not a one-way road. In the words of world-leading addiction expert Professor Anna Lembke, the author of Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence:
Our expectations have been manipulated not just by the culture but also by the biology of too much dopamine. What we need to do is tolerate a period of abstinence from all of these pleasure-inducing stimuli, allow our pleasure-pain balance to reset itself.
Since “abstinence” is the solution, let me present the technological abstinence – the digital detox.
Digital Detox: the way to get unplugged
What is a digital detox?
Digital detox is about limiting the usage of digital devices. The most popular way is putting the smartphone or computer away for the whole day – it’s 24 hours challenge. However, it doesn’t work for digital nomads, who use technology in their work. Luckily, it isn’t the only manner. The digital detox means also avoiding smartphones for particular parts of the day, like the morning or two hours before the sleep, or skipping the most time-consuming applications. So, the point isn’t to reject digital technology entirely but to have some “abstinence” time that someone can handle and which aligns with someone’s goals.
The digital detox is a personal experience, and it doesn’t have strict rules. But – I’m here to help you make it easier. Below you will find five digital detox ideas that work effectively and are perfect for beginners.
Five beginner-friendly digital detox ideas
1. Blocking apps
In Poland, we say that the heart doesn’t miss what the eyes don’t see. The point is that you won’t long to use mobile apps if you can’t use them, right? That’s why blocking apps are so helpful. They are like a personal couch: they just don’t allow you to use smartphones or particular apps over the limits you set.
The list of useful apps:
2. The day off
It’s easy to say – log off if you have to spend the whole day glued to a screen at work. But why don’t you take a day off? Think about the free day without any emails, calls, notifications… Instead, it would be filled with all activities you love, whether biking, reading, or baking cheesecake. Indeed, a day of rest for digital detox would be more rewarding than expected. The next day, you would come back to work fully rejuvenated and more creative.
3. Non-digital lunch break
Lunch break is the perfect time to check messages from friends and family, watch funny videos, or scroll social media. It works especially for people with remote jobs who can’t meet their colleagues at the canteen. But – it’s also an ideal time for a digital detox break. What about reading a book, writing a journal, or listening to music during your meal? In my experience, that kind of break helps the mind rest during a busy day and makes me more focused afterward.
4. Screentime measurement
In fact, this lifehack isn’t precisely about leading digital detox. Instead, it’s the idea of how to test if you need this challenge (or how to convince skeptics). So, the thing is to install an app that can measure how much time you spend on digital devices in general and how much time you spend on particular apps. By doing this, you will determine if technology consumes too much of your time.
The list of useful apps:
5. Analog alternatives
Smartphones allow us to read the news without newspapers, chat with people without calling them, and get knowledge without reading books. Maybe the main problem with digital devices is that we forget about analog alternatives which are still in use? For example, we can buy journals instead of checking the news on web pages, or we can ask a friend for a meal recipe rather than search remotely for it. It’s one of the excellent options to start with digital detox: think about what you do on your smartphone that you could do in an analog way.
To wrap it up
So – are you itching to turn off your digital devices and go for adventure freely? I won’t stop you with my final thoughts. The first attempt is the most difficult, but I’m sure that you will find your remedy for digital nomad fatigue with that guide. Let’s go!
Author: Karolina Zając
PS Feel free to share with me your digital detox experiences. I’m always curious about new stories to cover.
Short bio: Karolina Zając, a writer at Passport Photo Online. With a background in cognitive science and communication, she is fascinated by how language influences our perception of reality. It’s more likely to find her in the forest than at the dance club.