Navigating corona virus as a digital nomad requires a different approach to the rest of society.
It’s March 13 2020.
And the world is living in a climate of fear, panic and mass hysteria:
- Tom Hanks and his wife have contracted Corona virus.
- Arsenal manager Miguel Arteta
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie
- The Australian F1 is cancelled
- Trump has banned all European travel
- Disneyland California is closed
- Soccer games are happening behind closed doors
- I’ve got clients in Dubai, putting their staff on unpaid leave for 3 months
…and even friends in London whose companies are handing out laptops to their staff in preparation.
Boeing have called in $13.8 billion of credit, and their shares have plunged 57% since the first of March. As the world wonders can companies as big as Boeing even survive.
As digital nomads who are away from our families and often in unfamiliar places, our needs during this time are different.
I’m currently in Romania with Miriam, my girlfriend, and everything at this point is business as usual.
I look out the window and I see people going about their daily business.
There are 38 cases here, zero deaths.
And I have family in Milan, who actually are locked down.
They’ve been told to…
- Work from home; and
- not to come into the offices
…but they can still go into the offices if they choose.
The stores are closed and business is not happening as normal, but they can still leave their house, they just have to self declare on a form they reason for going out.
The media would have you believe that it’s a complete lock down situation with people being kept as prisoners.
Responding to corona virus as a digital nomad is unique because we’re away from home. We have to navigate this crisis in our own way.
And I want to walk you through how I’m personally responding to this.
And I hope this is going to be helpful, to help you navigate for yourself, your family and your friends during this crisis we’re all going through at the moment.
Now the benefit of being a nomad is we can move countries with ease.
We don’t have the traditional ties of houses and mortgages and families, like a lot of other people do.
The limitation is that you could be away from home and stuck in a different country.
For example, Miriam and I are heading to Bucharest next than Serbia, Montenegro, Latvia, Lithuania and Italy is not that far away.
In fact, Romania has 1.5 million people working in Italy.
So here’s some tips that I would recommend for digital nomads to help protect ourselves, but also remain calm and composed as we go through this time.
#1 – Avoid Co-Working & Coffee Shops
The first thing I would recommend is avoid working from co working and coffee shops try to work at home.
We’re in an Airbnb at the moment and thankfully it’s pretty comfortable.
Romania has amazing Wi Fi so we’re able to work at home.
I do also recommend getting a router box and a mobile SIM card for mobile data. Just in case you are not able to get any Wi Fi or the Wi Fi networks have any issues.
#2 – Try to Get Balanced News
The fact is, Corona virus has a 99.7% survival rate in the over 50s.
The media just sensationalizes everything to sell clicks and views.
Listen, I’m a marketer, okay? I know how that works.
They play on fear and pain, to get you to click, to get you to read, because that’s how they make money.
And even the alternative media that’s showing the quote unquote “truth”, they do push a fear agenda because they do have products to sell.
And even if they’re not selling any products, they do want people to come to their site and to click.
So they push that narrative of “here’s the stuff that mainstream media doesn’t tell you”.
And it’s true, they do publish that stuff, but they tend to only publish a one-sided view.
I’m really just pushing for getting a more balanced view of things, getting the objective facts that’s rooted in logic and not in emotion.
#3 – Stay on Top of Local Restrictions.
This morning, I just googled in Romania, what the restrictions and I found at this point, there’s not really anything to worry about.
There’s a small number of cases, there’s no deaths.
There’s flights being stopped from Italy to and from Romania.
But there’s nothing really beyond that. Road and rail have some small restrictions.
They’re handing out leaflets and there’s some occasional testing, but they’re not really restricting travel.
It’s just really helpful to know what’s happening locally.
A simple Google search of “Corona virus response” and then the country that you’re in, or the place that you’re in, is really all you need.
What I would say is to stay on top of the local restrictions and actually act as you see things escalating, not before it’s too late.
If you see that, you know, the measures are getting a little bit more stricter and more stringent, then it’s probably time to act while you still can.
You don’t want to be stuck in a country, you know, away from home away from your families and not able to go anywhere.
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#4 – Be Prepared
That doesn’t mean hoarding supplies.
We’ve seen supermarkets in the UK and around Europe where toilet roll and that stuff has just flown off the shelves and there’s nothing left.
What it does mean is stock up on things that last if there is a shortage or any containment.
So we’re talking about things like canned food, water and dry foods like rice.
On our side here, we’re not stocking up masses of those things.
But we are buying a little bit more pasta, a little bit more rice just in case things do get bad, then we’re going to be fine no matter what happens.
What’s happening in Italy, my family are telling me, is they are able to go out and get groceries still.
And Italy is probably the worst affected in Europe.
That gives you some indication that even if things do get to a self-containment or quarantine stage, its probably not going to get to the point where you can’t get food.
I don’t believe there’s a need to stock up and hoard massive amounts, which just creates scarcity and more fear for everybody.
Preparing for corona virus as a digital nomad won’t ever mean stocking up masses, but its sensible to get some food stuffs you can travel with if you do need to move.
#5 – Fear Weakens
Fear weakens, love reinforces.
I’ve been continually pushing that message on my Twitter in the last few days.
And here’s why…
Fear activates the amygdala, and that’s a set of neurons that are actually located in your brain.
And they are connected to how we process emotions.
Now, when we are feeling stressed, cortisol rises.
Cortisol is the stress hormone.
And it’s really detrimental to health:
- It interferes with learning and memory
- Lowers immune function and bone density
- Increases blood pressure and cholesterol
- Can cause heart disease
Now, of course, it’s going to be somewhat stressful, there’s going to be a low level of anxiety, no matter what, no matter how positively you think.
I’m not proposing you just think positive and pretend that this issue isn’t there.
But what I will tell you is when you let fear take over, and the amygdala is activated, it lowers your immunity, which makes you more susceptible to all illnesses, not just the corona virus.
By getting the balanced news, you actually stay in what’s called your prefrontal cortex. That’s the executive centre of the brain.
That’s the place where you make decisions from.
And when you get balanced news, it grounds you in the prefrontal cortex, which means that you can respond rather than react.
When you’re coming from fear, the amygdala is all jacked up and you’re processing emotions from a place of fear.
You’re making bad decisions. You’re reacting and we never make good decisions when we react.
So be cool, calm, calculated, get the information, make good decisions.
Now whilst people are dying, and there’s no disputing that, I’m not going to be a person to claim that that’s not happening, there are many others who are actually surviving.
As I mentioned, it’s a 99.7% survival rate of the under 50s.
Now, what that tells us is the virus itself isn’t the danger, but it’s the health and state of the individual who contracts the virus.
And mental and emotional health is the foundation of that.
Keeping ourselves grounded and anchored in a place of reality and not emotion, is really going to help us maintain a positive mental attitude and maintain our emotions at a reasonable level.
Beyond that, there are a lot of formulas I’ve seen for reinforcing your health.
It’s not really for me to recommend anything, but look them up.
I’ve seen a lot of things recommended to make your immune system more resilient during this time.
But I’m really really a big believer in our mental state and our emotional state, is the foundation is the cornerstone of good health.
#6 – Maintain Your Routine
The next thing I’d say is, don’t stop what you’re doing and dwell on the problem.
Maintain your normal routine as much as possible.
If that gets crashed outside of your control and your projects are cancelled, and you just have nothing, you know to do.
Just ask yourself…
“What can I use this new free time for that moves my life forward in a positive fashion?”
Maybe it’s writing that book, it’s creating that course it’s starting that social account, it’s creating content, all of those things you don’t normally have time to do.
How does this situation serve me rather than hurt me?
Maintaining your schedule is important to responding to corona virus as a digital nomad.
Corona Virus as a Digital Nomad: Summary
Responding to corona virus as a digital nomad means our needs are different.
I really hope that our community responds to this crisis in a way that’s different to how everybody else is responding.
Please share this message, you can find the podcast version and YouTube versions here.
I would say just always remember in nature, there’s always perfect balance. That state of equilibrium.
It’s one sidedness that creates fear, division and scarcity.
Look, the negative exists. I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t, but so does the other side, and it exists in exactly the same proportion.
- Seek it out for yourself and be grounded.
- Be an anchor during this time of turmoil for others.
- Be a source of light and love for the world as we go through this together.
As they say, This too shall pass.
And it’s important to know that as we navigate these times, be a voice of reason of calmness and patience.
Be aware, be prepared, and most of all, be compassionate.