In the last five years of our nomadic lifestyle, we’ve been confronted with a lot of uncertainty and hectic times.
Traveling and working on the road with no permanent base brings its own set of challenges.
Along the way, we’ve learned how to to keep sane in the midst of chaos and never ending changes. We’ve cultivated routines and habits that help us feel grounded when things around feel out of control.
In this article, we share lessons learned from our travels and nomadic lifestyle.
As life brings about unexpected twists and turns, some of these tips may work for you too.
In full transparency, we are not always successful in following our own tips on a daily basis. Sometimes we struggle, other days we skip most of them, and on some lucky days, we do them all.
Here’s what we’ve found. If you commit to applying a few of these tips every day, it gets easier. You get better at handling unsettling situations and the stress diminishes.
We are not striving for perfection, just sanity.
Use these #7 tips to help you keep sane in the midst of change and chaos.
You know this already, but do you practice it?
Getting enough sleep is important to recharge your energy level and give a boost to your immune system.
Though, It can be a challenging task and very difficult to adhere to. Our society encourages “buzy-ness” rather than sleeping, as Arianna Huffington, points out in her book The Sleep Revolution.
While sleep requirements vary from person to person. The National Institute of Health recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for healthy adults to be at their best.
In our case, our wake up time tends to be consistent. The most challenging is getting to bed early enough so that we can get the minimum hours of sleep.
Just as you would set an alarm clock to wake up, we set up a timer to go to bed. It is early enough to get ready for bed, with time to relax and read before falling asleep.
If we don’t sleep enough, we tend to feel sloppy the next day. It is harder to focus, we are moody, and more distracted.
On the other hand, every time we have a good night of rest, we find ourselves coping much easier.
On nights when sleep is hard to come, we use sleep mantras to focus our breathing, relax and sleep peacefully.
2. Eating Healthy at Consistent Times
The more we get our bodies into a regular eating routine, the easier it is to keep sane and cope with uncertainty.
Fortunately, eating is one thing that is fully within our control. No matter where we are in the world, we maintain a regular eating schedule.
We remain very traditional, eating 3 main meals per day interspersed with healthy snacks and water (fruits, almonds, etc.)
In addition to eating at precise times, we also pay attention to what we are putting into our bodies. We prioritize healthy food options, nuts and fruits, instead of sugar or carbohydrates.
We shop at the local markets and cook from scratch. The entire experience of planning the menu, shopping and then cooking is important in helping establish a routine.
In moments of stress and anxiety, don’t forget to eat. Even though you may not feel hungry, the act of feeding your body right will help calm the nerves.
RELATED: See easy travel inspired recipes we’ve learned to make on the road
3. Exercising Regularly
It is well known that exercising releases endorphins, the feel good hormones which in turn decrease stress levels.
Exercise also provides an energy boost to your lungs and heart. Any kind of exercise is beneficial. From walking, jogging, practicing yoga or strength training, the possibilities are endless, even from home.
We particularly enjoy running. The beauty of being runners is that we don’t need much beyond our running shoes and a running outfit.
No equipment necessary, just the desire to get out and “run the stress away.” This has been our saving grace along this journey and in our lives in general.
The ability to get out, get some fresh air and be in nature has been and continues to provide respite from the stress.
Overall, participating in some form of exercise is good for the mind, body and soul.
When staying in, we follow exercise programs on YouTube. Claire particularly enjoys yoga challenges at Yoga With Adriene.
If you don’t already, try any of these channels. Enjoy the benefits when you exercise at least 3 times per week for a minimum of 30 mins.
RELATED: How to Stay Fit On The Road
4. Journaling – Practicing Gratitude and Letting Go
One of the techniques we have successfully implemented over the years is “gratitude journaling.”
What’s unique about this approach is focusing on “what’s going right” rather than “what’s wrong” or “what needs to get done”.
As the famous life coach Tony Robbins puts it: “To change your life, change your expectation to appreciation.”
We find this approach helpful for sharp focus on the positives. This helps cultivate a sense of gratitude and a reminder to step back and see the good in everything.
When we are preoccupied, anxious or need to make a decision, putting it down on paper is incredibly helpful.
Rather than remaining crippled in anxiety, writing it down allows us to get organized by creating a plan of action to move forward.
By doing so, we formulate the question “what can I do to …” This subtle shift helps the mind find the right solution.
It is a way of letting go of anxiety and clearing the mind. We encourage you to give journaling a try.
Start with 5 mins in the morning after waking up and 5 minutes at night before going to bed.
5. Meditating Consistently
The ability to quiet our minds and go within, is incredibly powerful but difficult to achieve on an on going basis.
With years of practice, we have become more consistent. We typically meditate at least once a day, every morning, for 20 – 30 minutes. If we can meditate at night as well, even better.
Over the years, we’ve used several resources to help us instill this daily practice. Here are a few we recommend.
Headspace is a smartphone app that offers guided meditations. We like the short meditations that are offered, which are perfect on the go, or when getting started.
Tara Brach, founder of the Insight Meditation Community, blends Western Psychology, Eastern spiritual practices and mindfulness.
Her book “Radical Acceptance” is a resource that we often go back to. In it, Tara Brach offers tips and techniques for everyday life to stay present in times of fear or stress.
The meditation challenges that Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra offer are also fun to follow. They provide you with a consistent daily practice. They are structured for a 21-day period allowing you to start and form a new habit.
Another recommended resource is the Sam Harris waking up app. The first 5 meditations are free, giving you a few days to try it for yourself.
Even though daily meditation is not easy, the benefits of feeling less frazzled and being more centered are worth it.
6. Limiting News and Social Media Intake to Keep Sane
While keeping informed with the news is important, we make a concerted effort to limit our intake. The media and news are made to keep us coming back to it. The “sensationalist news” stimulates our adrenaline to keep us watching.
Fortunately, we don’t own a television, so we are able to manage our news consumption.
The challenge, however, is with social media. Have you ever been on Facebook to check one message and then find you’ve lost half an hour or more?
Social media employs techniques to keep us hooked. Algorithms are built in to feed you more of what you like or want. Retargeting techniques constantly bombard you with new intriguing information.
As digital nomads who work online, we often find ourselves falling into the social media trap. While on Facebook sharing articles or answering Authentic Food Quest messages, we easily get distracted and lose time.
Over the years, we’ve used various techniques to limit our social media intake. We’ve tried turning off notifications or giving ourselves “fixed” social media time. These techniques have worked with varying degrees of success. Admittedly, this is an area for continued improvement.
On the whole, when we limit our news intake and reduce social media time, we feel centered and less stressed.
7. Using the Power of the Breathe in the Midst of Panic
In moments of overwhelm, it’s easy to lose focus and let panic take over.
When navigating our way through new destinations or when dealing with business uncertainties, we have to remain calm to gain perspective.
One tool we always go back to is to focus on our breathing.
Adopting long and slow deep breaths, even for only 30 seconds, helps provide perspective in the midst of chaos. The key is to shift one’s attention to the breath, nothing else.
This technique is detailed by Tara Brach in her book “Radical Acceptance”, our go to resource.
Combined with meditation, this practice reminds us of the temporary nature and ebb and flow of life. Any state is transient. The good and bad times come and go.
Another interesting read about acquiring skills and mental strength for challenging times is the book “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink.
Following leadership principles, the author teaches how to become dependable and resilient, a useful skill set during times of crisis.
And ultimately, if you find yourself distressed, remember this Persian adage:
“This too shall pass.”
Life is not always perfect. Like a road, it has uphills, downhills and many bends. Since we can’t control life, we can control how we feel and react to it.
In the midst of chaos, we can be at peace or wrapped up in anxiety. Moments of change present us with opportunities to grow.
These coping skills guide us and continue to help us tremendously. Used collectively, they offer incredible benefits.
From your perspective, share with us, how do you keep sane and cope with chaos or change? Let us know your tips in the comments below.
Savor The Adventure.
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Rosemary is a writer, culinary explorer, and digital nomad. Together with her partner, Claire, they created Authentic Food Quest to help people find the best local food on their travels. For over 5 years they have eaten their way through South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America while sharing the best local food experiences on their website. Authentic Food Quest has been featured on top publications such as Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Honest Cooking. Rosemary and Claire are also authors of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon. Prior to creating Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary worked as a strategy director in advertising for over 15 years.