10 challenges of digital nomads seeing a therapist and how to overcome them.

10 challenges of digital nomads seeing a therapist and how to overcome them.

challenges for digital nomads

Being a digital nomad comes with a lot of unique challenges. Many digital nomads often describe the lifestyle being much better than they ever imagined, but also much more difficult than they ever could have imagined. One of these often unforeseen challenges is seeing a therapist. We’ll dive into these challenges and how to address them so that you can stress less about being on the road. 

challenges for digital nomads

1. Constant change of location

Challenge:

Many digital nomads move around from frequently,  and it can be quite overwhelming to find a therapist in each location. Besides the obvious challenge of finding a new therapist every time you move to a new country, finding a therapist in rural areas is also a challenge. 

How to address this: 

Find a location independent therapist who offers telehealth sessions. This will help you solve the problem of having to find a new therapist in each location you visit. 

2. Language barrier

Challenge: 

Being able to communicate effectively with your therapist is crucial to the success of therapy. If your therapist is not fluent in your native tongue, there could be many things lost in translation. It can be difficult to find the right words for your feelings if you are not fluent; this could set back your progress in therapy. 

How to address this: 

Use the search filters in websites like Psychology Today to find a therapist who speaks your native language. Most therapist directory websites offer filters to help you find a therapist by language. You can also try a simple google search such as “spanish-speaking online therapist, “ for example. 

digital nomads

3. Access

Challenge:

As you may already know, there are some parts of the world who do not have adequate mental health resources. Therapists may be hard to find in some countries where mental health is not taken very seriously. Even if there are a handful of therapists in the country, there may be a waitlist to see one. Moreover, you could also struggle to access a therapist due to a lack of WiFi in your area. Not having a reliable internet connection to be able to access telehealth sessions may add to your anxiety and stress. 

How to address this: 

Invest in a mobile hotspot to ensure you have WiFi wherever you go, so that your therapy sessions are not interrupted. Having regular access to therapy services will go a long way in your mental health journey. 

one in four adults are affected by mental health disorders

4. Stigma

Challenge:

The stigma around seeing a therapist has a long history and spreads across many different cultures. However, it is more pronounced in some parts of the world than others. It can often be hard to challenge people’s perceptions of mental health and their understanding of therapy. Many people still believe that there is something wrong with you if you see a therapist. These are incorrect and antiquated assumptions may make it hard for you to seek help when you need it most.

How to address this: 

Remind yourself that your mental well-being matters. Don’t let the stigma create self-doubt and shame. Try talking to people who are currently seeing a therapist about their experience. Remember that you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental disorders at some point in their lives. You can speak out against the stigma and explain to those around you that therapy is for everyone. Teaching others about the importance of mental health and the benefits of seeing a therapist helps end the stigma. 

5. Quality

Challenge:

Finding a qualified therapist can be daunting in certain countries. Only a handful of countries in the world regulate counselors and therapists. The internet is a wonderful tool, however, beware of people who do not have qualifications and claim to be therapists. Companies like BetterHelp or TalkSpace may seem convenient for finding a qualified therapist, but many of these therapy companies are not run by therapists. It’s important that the companies are run by people with knowledge and undestanding of the complexity of therapy. It’s possible that ethical standards, confidentiality, and informed consent are not upheld in these companies to the same level. You can find an article detailing more issues on this written by a therapist who worked for BetterHelp here.

How to address this: 

Don’t be afraid to ask a therapist you are thinking of seeing about their qualifications and experience. Do a bit of research if you are still unsure of what the credentials they give you mean. Furthermore, you can also ask what code of conduct they follow. This will give you a better idea of how ethical they will be throughout your sessions. A professional mental health professional will have no issue providing you with reassurance that their qualifications are valid and that they have the tools needed to best help you in your mental health journey. 

digital nomads

6. Understanding of lifestyle

Challenge:

While many therapists may have traveled abroad on holidays, most therapists are not digital nomads. It is possible that some therapists may not even be familiar with the digital nomad community or be at all knowledgeable about the type of lifestyle this entails. It can be hard to connect with a therapist who doesn’t understand your life choices or the unique challenges you face as a digital nomad. Nomads have expressed their frustration about how challenging it was to find someone who didn’t judge their lifestyle. One particular nomadic client mentioned that she often would find herself explaining or defending her lifestyle for the majority of a therapy session, and she wasn’t making much therapeutic progress for that reason.

How to address this: 

Find a therapist who is also a digital nomad or perhaps an avid traveler who understands the lifestyle well. While being a digital nomad and a therapist is not the norm, there are some of us who love to travel and have decided to combine our passions for traveling and helping others. If you find a Digital Nomad Therapist who is not accepting any more clients, ask that therapist for a referral. The odds of a digital nomad therapist knowing others who also understand the lifestyle are great. 

time zone challenges

7. Time zone

Challenge:

As probably all digital nomads have realized,  time zones are your worst enemy. Time zones can be particularly challenging when seeing a therapist because most therapists have set office hours and will not be flexible to accommodate your new time zone. This can make it hard to find a time to have a session that is not in the middle of the night for you. 

How to address this: 

Talking to a therapist who has some flexibility in office hours is ideal as you may need to have sessions at different times or on different days. Using a time zone converter or a tool like Calendly will make scheduling easier when you are in a different time zone than your therapist. Have a conversation with potential therapists about this and explain why it will often be difficult for you to fit a session into traditional office hours. If the therapist you speak to does not have that flexibility, ask if he/she can recommend a therapist who may have the flexibility you need. 

8. Consistency

Challenge:

It can be so hard to be consistent with your therapy sessions when you are a nomad. Between managing your visas, accommodation, and workload- it can often be overwhelming trying to find time to sit down with a therapist. There are times in our lives when it is not essential for us to have weekly therapy sessions. However, there are some presenting problems which are addressed more efficiently with consistent sessions. 

How to address this: 

Prioritize therapy sessions as much as you can. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and needs to be treated as such. Although it can be tedious to make the time to even schedule a session, remind yourself of how good you will feel once your mental health is in great shape. Try having a conversation with your therapist about consistency. Make sure it’s clear how often you should strive to have sessions. 

Talk about the barriers that are stopping you from being as consistent in therapy sessions. Communication between you and your therapist is key so that you don’t lose a spot as a client if you miss sessions. It’s important to ask about cancellations and no-show policies, in case there is a mix-up or an emergency that makes you miss a session. Ask the therapist if they offer packages since this may incentivize you to book sessions as well since they often include savings. 

therapy

9. Finding a therapist who specializes in what you need

Challenge:

Most therapists specialize in certain kinds of treatment techniques or presenting problems. If you are seeking therapy because you are experiencing depression, for example, you may not benefit as much from seeing a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. The most common problems among digital nomads are loneliness, depression, anxiety, and relationship troubles. While these problems are experienced by those who are not nomadic as well, being a digital nomad often can heighten these problems in different ways and add unique challenges. 

How to address this: 

Make sure your search for a therapist includes the specialty that you need. If you are unsure what your presenting problem is, have a chat with a therapist about your symptoms and emotions. A therapist will be able to determine from an initial consultation the type of specialty services you may need and can provide further guidance or a referral. You can use the filters in Psychology Today to search for therapists by specialty as well. 

10. Connection

Challenge:

Research studies show that “good quality [therapy-client] relationships…are statistically correlated with successful outcomes” (Horvath and Symonds 1991). This means it is important to find a therapist you connect with. As a client, you have to feel comfortable with your therapist and trust that person to guide you in the right direction. Being able to trust your therapist with anything that’s on your mind is essential to your success in therapy. Finding someone you connect with on a deeper level and can fully trust may take some time. 

How to address this: 

Take advantage of the free consultations many therapists offer. These consultations are offered at no cost to ensure it’s a right fit for both parties. It is during this consultation when you can ask questions to get a sense of whether or not the therapist holds the same values as you do. After the initial consultation, you will be better able to assess if the therapist can help you with what you need. If it’s not a right fit, ask the therapist to refer you to a colleague he/she may think could help you. Communicate clearly with the therapist to ensure you get the referrals you need. 

You can be a digital nomad and maintain good mental health

Taking care of your mental health while traveling can seem like a huge hassle. However, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to prioritize your mental wellbeing. Are there more challenges to seeing a therapist while living a nomadic life? Yes, quite possibly. If you have chosen this lifestyle though, you have probably come to understand that it isn’t all beaches and margaritas as portrayed on social media. The life of a digital nomad can be really hard. Living in a constant survival mode state when uprooting your life, maintaining any kind of routine, and constantly leaving friends are just some of the cons of the nomadic life. 

However, If you have decided this lifestyle is for you, there are definitely ways to stay on track of your mental health to live a happy and fulfilled life. Seeing a therapist is a great way to take care of your mind. If you are interested in the types of services I offer as a digital nomad therapist, feel free to follow me on social media under the handle @globalcitizentherapy or check out my website here.

Self-love as a Path to Happiness

Self-love as a Path to Happiness

Who says we need a partner? No, seriously. I want you to think about who is telling you that you need a partner to be fulfilled, happy, and content with your life. A friend of mine recently explained her decision to remain in a city she had already decided to leave. She explained, “I feel fulfilled in all other aspects of my life except for finding a partner”, and so she stayed. Many of us have been told all of our lives that we need to find a romantic partner in order to be happy.

Reliance on a Partner for Happiness

However, what happens when you put all of that pressure on a partner to make you happy and fulfilled? It’s a recipe for disaster. When you rely on another person to make you happy, it is likely you will try to force the relationship to work even after multiple red flags. These red flags don’t necessarily mean your partner is a bad person, but may serve as a warning sign that something is wrong and that the relationship should end before things get worse. When we aren’t happy with ourselves and we are looking for someone to make us happy, we may cling to that person as we believe they embody our happiness. 

Low self-worth & running from our problems

It’s possible that our self-esteem is low and is still recovering from a blow it may have taken in the past. Low self-esteem could be the result of many different situations such as parental criticism, bullying, or intimate-partner violence. This low self-esteem leads to difficulty with loving and accepting ourselves, which then leads to us searching for a partner to validate us. 

As digital nomads, we often are accused of running from our problems. However, there may be a grain of truth in this accusation. For example, travelers have made the decision to move abroad after a break-up. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. It depends on the avoidance of the problem. Some location independent travelers dedicate their time to self-development and learn a lot about themselves after starting their journey abroad. This might look like therapy, a meditation or yoga retreat, a reflective solo road trip, or a silent vipassana journey. It could also be as simple as holing yourself up in your Airbnb for a few days and doing nothing but journaling about your thoughts. Self-awareness could take on many forms and it’s important to experiment to see what works best for you.

Traveling and self-searching

How do I find myself? How do I find happiness? You might have heard before that traveling is a way of finding yourself. However, it could also be a way to escape your feelings and keep yourself so busy and distracted that you avoid your own company. You might be scared of being alone with your own thoughts and feelings because you know that you may not have fully processed the past yet. Not dealing with past issues can be detrimental in the future, especially when you meet a partner. 

Finding yourself is a process of deep self-inquiry and mindfully changing your perceptions, thoughts, and behaviors. You don’t need to travel to work on yourself and find peace with who you are as a person. You don’t need a partner to boost you up because you got this. You need to know your self-worth before entering a relationship so that you and your partner can flourish.

Unhappiness with a partner

Why do people stay in unhealthy relationships? Most of the time it has to do with low self-esteem and a misconception that this partner embodies our happiness. What we must remember is that happiness is found within. We often fail to understand that it doesn’t matter if we have found a partner who wholeheartedly loves us, because if we don’t love ourselves, we will never be happy. 

In addition, it’s unfortunate that most people get tired of constantly boosting someone’s self-esteem, and grow weary of being a rock for someone who is not making any progress or self-growth. That lack of healthy self-esteem can cause a partner to become frustrated, subsequently becoming fed up with the neediness and clinginess of someone who needs constant validation and reassurance of his/her worthiness. 

Slow and steady means you’re ready

So, how do you know when you are truly ready for a relationship? When you stop being scared that you won’t find a partner. We spend so much of our lives searching for love and validation from a partner instead of looking within and finding out how to love ourselves. Why? Because it’s easier, or because we have been told repeatedly by society that finding a partner is one of the most important milestones in life. Once you have come to terms with being single and fully understand that you can achieve self-actualization without a partner to validate you, that is when you are ready. 

Some people do great on their own self-growth journey, while others enlist the assistance of therapists like myself to help guide them through this process. Once you have something to contribute to a relationship other than simply an expectation that this relationship will bring you happiness and joy, you can truly be satisfied. You’ll notice that once your self-esteem has improved, the energy you exude will attract potential partners. From there starts the process of finding a mate and putting in the effort to make the relationship sustainable. 

Before you restart this search for a partner in order to fill a void you think you can’t fill yourself, take some time to reflect and ask yourself what it is that you really need. Once you have become comfortable in your own skin and are comfortable being alone, you are ready to find a partner who you can share your happiness with, not someone who will simply be an embodiment of your happiness. 

Mental Health Tips for Working from Home

Mental Health Tips for Working from Home

Working from home can be challenging, especially when it begins to take a toll on your mental wellbeing. Whether it’s your first time working from home, or you have been doing this for a while, it’s important to take your mental health seriously and realize the adverse effects that remote work can have on you.

Breaks

There are many things to consider when it comes to taking breaks. Do you have a scheduled break time designated by your employer or your work schedule? If you don’t, what does your current break schedule look like? You need to find what works best for you. It can be difficult to strike a balance between productivity and self care. These breaks are your time for self care during the day. When we think of self care, we tend to think of it as something we do on our day off or possibly after work hours. We need to reframe that thinking because it’s important to realize we need self care during our work day as well. We need to prioritize breaks so that we can maintain our productivity. After a break, we can come back feeling refreshed and ready to hit the ground running again.

It can be helpful to set reminders for breaks. If you notice that you often ignore these reminders and keep working, try a screen lockout application or extension. Make an effort to make sure you are not disturbed during your break. Screen time should be limited during our breaks, especially if we have a job that requires a lot of screen time. Try taking a walk outside for some fresh air instead or chatting with a coworker.

Exercise, nature, and a social connection will add more value to your day than scrolling through your phone will. Being active during your break if you sit at a desk all day will help you feel energized. If you are challenged mentally more than physically at work, try to take a break somewhere quiet and meditate so that you can recharge, reset your focus, and re-energize your mind. 

Man Showing Distress

Beating frustrating wait times

You were on a roll and then your computer randomly decides to update. Perhaps your WiFi stops working. Maybe you have been staring at a document that is uploading for what seems like an eternity. I’ve been there. Plenty of us have. We all experience issues with technology from time to time which can make working from home very frustrating. What can we do to stop ourselves from punching a wall you ask? Try doing some breathing exercises. The more oxygen hitting your brain, the more relaxed, calm, and self-aware you’ll feel.

Consider keeping a coloring pad handy at your desk so that while you wait, you can do something relaxing. You could also use this time to get up and stretch. 15 minutes of stretching can leave you feeling at ease and give you the energy you need. If you have a pet at home, give him/her a cuddle and a bit of attention while you wait. You can use this time to refill your water bottle or make yourself a cup of tea. The simple process of making tea will relax you as well and holding a hot beverage can be very soothing. 

clock, computer, desk

Screen time

Working from home usually means a lot more screen time. But when you’re working, you might not have a chance to check your phone and respond to personal messages. If you don’t, the temptation to finish work and immediately start scrolling through your phone could beat you. Set a timer for ten minutes of phone use after work hours, then do an activity that doesn’t involve a screen. Give your eyes a break and try finding a new hobby. Bonus points if it’s a new exercise class or a form of art since they will boost your mental health and improve your mood. 

Writings In A Planner

Schedule it

Working from home often means there is a lot less structure to your work day. Try using the pomodoro technique to increase your productivity, break up your work load, and incorporate breaks into your day. The pomodoro technique includes timers for every half hour. It allows you enter in tasks that you want to accomplish in that time frame. Planning what you need to get done throughout the day will help you stay on track to meet your goals. Emails can be distracting; set a time to check emails to avoid the interruptions of responding to emails throughout the day. 

Work space

It’s important when working from home to be mindful of the work space you choose. Find what works best for you. As tempting as it may be to take your laptop to your bed and work from there, avoid it. Working or doing anything other than sleeping for too long on your bed can affect your sleep at night. If you have an in-home office or a desk to work from, make sure you get some natural sunlight. If possible, set up your desk by a window so you can open it to have some fresh air. Buy natural plants for your desk as these not only look nice, but they release oxygen which can help your mental health.

Figure out what relaxes you and use that. Try playing classical music in the background. Put pictures of loved ones or inspirational quotes on your desk. Make it your own space and add things to your desk that make you happy. Use candles or essential oil diffusers in your workspace since aromatherapy may help boost your mood and relieve stress. Keep your comfort and physical health in mind when selecting a chair and choose one that will help your posture. If you choose to work from a public place like a cafe, be mindful the space has everything you need. 

Rich results on Google's SERP when searching "why is my energy so off today"

Check your energy levels

If you have a job that has some flexibility with the hours you work, figure out when your energy levels are the highest. Is it in the morning when you first wake up? Is it after you have had a cup of coffee or done your morning meditation? Think about your morning routine and your productivity levels in the morning compared to the evening for example. If you are a night owl and get more work done at the end of the day, adjust your work schedule to match your energy levels. Whether or not you have the flexibility to work in the evening or not, you should also attempt to strike a balance by knowing which activities drain you and which ones recharge you-then plan accordingly.

Look at the list of tasks you have for the day and plan out which ones you should tackle when you have the most energy. Once you know which tasks will take the most out of you, it is easy to plan a break after that particular task or follow it up with a task that is easy or that you enjoy. It’s also important to realize that our minds tend to have a daily limit to creativity and decision making. This means you should plan out your day, whenever possible, to prioritize the tasks that require you to make decisions or use your creativity in the beginning of your work day. Checking your energy levels and planning around them will make you more productive and keep your mental health in check as well. 

Clear Liquid in Drinking Glass

Drinking water

It can be easy to get so wrapped up in our work that we forget something as simple as drinking water. Keep a water bottle visible at your desk and refill it when it gets empty. Drinking enough water helps us stay hydrated; this is especially important because dehydration is the number one cause of stress in the body. Water can help reduce the negative psychological and physiological impacts of stress. Since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps to balance your mood and emotions. Our blood is made of 90% water, and the blood delivers oxygen to our brain. By drinking more water, more oxygen hits our brain and we can function better. Most people know the physical health benefits of drinking water, but drinking water can be great for your mental health too. Convinced yet on drinking more water?

Making your mental health a priority and setting habits that can set you up for a healthy work-life balance will benefit you in the long run. If you take a bit of time to set these goals and make these changes, you can be more productive without it taking a toll on your mental well-being. If you still find yourself overwhelmed and are struggling with the transition, talk to a therapist. You can find a qualified mental health professional at www.globalcitizentherapy.com,

3 tips to staying sane during covid

3 tips to staying sane during covid

During these challenging and unknown times, it can be difficult to focus on our own mental health and self-care when our very survival is at the forefront of most of our minds. However, it is important to remember that self-compassion and care is of the utmost importance more now than ever before. Increased levels of stress affect our immune system and overall well-being, which is just another reason to stay sane as best as possible! Many of us are on the front lines, working days and nights to keep humanity safe. And while others of us are at home also assisting in those efforts, there are many opportunities for self-care, self-discovery, and learning.

Understand Stress:

We all respond to stress differently and in fact, our brains are individually wired with how we react to challenging situations and trauma triggering us to either “fight” or “flight”. This evolutionary survival response, and the survival tactics that come with each, lead to upsurges in the three main stress hormones: adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. An excess of any stress hormone is not good for the body for persistent or extended periods of time and some tend to deal with stress by fighting and others by fleeing a challenge.
These two responses evolved from a time when our ancestors faced imminent and life threatening situations such as a lion on the plains of the Sahara or an invasion of an enemy tribe. They had to choose whether to stay and battle it out, or run for their lives. Nowadays we don’t typically have to worry about a lion eating us or an impending tribe attack. However, the instincts that we were gifted long ago have since developed and adapted to modern times and relevant stressors that are now considered to be challenging like news of illness, a dog barking, or an argument with a friend.
Those two common reactions of fight or flight still remain psychologically, and so when chased by a dog down the street, one might decide to stop and ward the dog off with a stick or to run for his or her life. Similarly, facing the threat of a deadly virus and depending on your role and capability, you might choose to embrace reality and take all precautionary measures to keep yourself safe by aiding in the efforts to get rid of the virus (or fight). While others, on the contrary, might choose to escape the issue by fleeing, perhaps shutting down, and avoiding the outside world altogether (flight).

Deal with Stress:

Understanding your evolutionary tendencies towards stress and the way that you deal with challenges can help you to solutionize when it comes to ridding yourself of stress and anxiety. So, if you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious about the current situation, think about what best helps you to relax. Is it a nice, steamy, bubble bath? A good book on the couch with dessert? Yoga and meditation? Whatever it is, make sure to factor in time each day to exclusively care for yourself and focus on de-stressing.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert might shape how you deal with having to stay home, away from others, and in your own space. As an introvert, you might be totally fine with the current restrictions and even happy to have some alone time away from social pressures and big crowds. If this is the case, then enjoy your time!
As an extrovert, you might find the current circumstances a tad bit challenging, especially if you are away from family and feeling isolated. Whichever camp you find yourself in, remember that stress is a physiological response, and so that means that we can use physiological tools to rid ourselves of it! Excellent stress reducing tools include: mindfulness meditation, yoga, exercise, walks, engaging in nature (gardening, hikes [in safe and distance approved areas of course]) and more.

Embrace Self-Care:

Take it one step further, and go beyond simply dealing with stress to taking this time to enhance yourself and your well being. No matter your personality type, there is a way to take care of yourself. Whether it be through adventure, social interaction, or spending time with family, there are ways to adapt how you coped or spent quality time before the current situation to now. Essentially, the goal is to lower stress levels and increase well being; so it might not mean that you need to take a last minute flight to Spain in order to feel happy or relieved. There are other very simple, easy and affordable ways to engage in and enhance self care from home.
Some of us might gravitate towards binge watching Netflix on the couch all night, waking up in the late hours of the noon feeling groggy and out of sorts. It is okay to embrace whichever relaxation methods work for you; just be wary of creating bad habits and remember that self care includes health in forms of eating well, sleeping adequately, and engaging in stimulating and varied activities. (In other words, everything in moderation!)
As a social butterfly, perhaps you are used to getting drinks with the girls every Saturday night. Quarantinis can also be a thing! Utilize our fabulous technology to gather all the gals on Zoom or Google Hangouts, dress in your finest PJs, and have some samosas on the couch. As a couple, this is an excellent time to focus on your relationship and quality time together. For some, there might be challenges that come with being together 24/7. But there is a wide array of opportunities to remind yourselves of what is important; your health, well-being and relationship. Test out some different in-home date nights, like homemade pizza and movie night. Or order some scented candles and massage oils online and go for a spa night.
As an adventurer, perhaps you miss the freedom of being on the go and the ability to travel whenever and wherever you please. Maybe try to use this time to find adventure in the more simple aspects of life that surround you each and every day, in your backyard, your walks around the block, the unread books on your shelf, or that online class you’ve always wanted to sign up for. As a mom or a caretaker, now might be the craziest time you’ve ever experienced! Perhaps you are overjoyed about spending all day with the little ones, or it could be that you are pulling out your hair waiting for nap time. Whatever the case may be, make sure that you take some time for yourself, to focus on yourself, and to tend to your needs. From five extra minutes in the shower to watching your favorite show for an hour in the evening; do your best to work with your circumstances and those around you to make sure that you get some “me time”.

We are facing a time where we have been so abruptly forced to focus on ourselves, those closest and nearest to us, and the minute details of everyday life. It is crucial that we stay safe and healthy physically. But it is important that we pay attention to what is going on inside ourselves as well, on a mental, psychological and emotional level. For a few hours to even a few minutes each day, please make sure to show yourself some love.

 

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