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How to deal with anxiety around Coronavirus + travel

How to deal with anxiety around Coronavirus + travel

By anyone’s standards, we’re living in troubling times. Coronavirus messaging is overwhelming, from the media, governments, employers and family members – how to deal with anxiety of it all then?

With very few details to go on, the only consistent message we had for months was to keep our hands clean and off our faces. Then hand sanitiser sold out! (well, except for the packs of six small bottles that you could buy on Amazon for the bargain price of £75 😠).

Travel plans are out the window and some of us face a very real threat of being separated from family, friends and the future we’d planned because the world is closed, indefinitely.

How to deal with anxiety around Coronavirus

The exceptional pace at which events have unfolded since January 2020 means people are living in fear. Unexpected lock-downs began in China, then Italy which we got caught up in. People worry about empty supermarket shelves, closed international borders and economic collapse.

All of this came out of nowhere. Our travel trends never predicted this in the plan. It’s new, and it’s upsetting.

I know you are stressed. Me too!

Friends have messaged me in tears. Fellow travel writers and bloggers have contacted us to ask, ‘what are you guys doing next?’ Another friend has been stuck on a cruise ship for over 25 days – no port will accept the passengers! If someone walks past and coughs, panic wells inside of us all. Our biggest international airlines have simply stopped flying indefinitely. The business landscape is changing, and many people are without work. It’s madness.

Social isolation is enforced globally, including here in the UK. We’re keeping our distance from other humans. Pubs are shut – it’s bad. That would be a joke if it weren’t for all the other businesses that have closed too. Hotels, restaurants, events, tours, even the famous summer festival Glastonbury has been cancelled, in what would have been its 50th year! Will summer destinations like Ibiza – heavily reliant on seasonal tourism – even be able to open this year?

I would have thought it was all a bit of a crazy media frenzy, if we’d not experienced all of it directly. Unfortunately, it’s all true.

It’s time to admit we’re in trouble when ‘wartime’ rhetoric is invoked, but admittedly I’d drawn these parallels already.

Coronavirus anxiety has been following Cooper and I for a while, from before our trip to Italy where we were set to attend the TBEX conference, here in the UK and in Australia.

The situation for digital nomads and the Coronavirus pandemic - what to do next

The situation for digital nomads and the Coronavirus pandemic

Last August Cooper and I set off on a grand adventure. For the first time in our lives we let work be a secondary concern. On a house sitting sabbatical adventure (that made international headlines) we had a world of opportunity at our fingertips. We’ve embraced a house sitting and digital nomad lifestyle – like thousands and thousands of others. This lifestyle has been accessible and easy for years now. Living a laptop lifestyle and all of that.

But what happens when you have plans to travel, live and work in different countries, but now deal with anxiety around what’s [not] on offer? The Coronavirus outbreak means for many of us that we need to return home before we want or intended to. When will we be free to travel again? It’s estimated that most airlines will be bankrupt by the end of May 2020. A staggering and saddening thought.

I remember the days when there was no competition and there’s no way an average family of four could fly from one city in Australia to another. We had to drive. I imagine it was the same in Europe. Now we flit from the UK to Spain on a whim. Well, at least we could do that three months ago.

Currently we’re in the UK where we have residency, thankfully for a little while yet. We were going to apply for indefinite leave to remain visas this year and stay. But we want to be at home in Australia too. How can we get there when all flights are cancelled? We are without a flat because we’ve been travelling. It feels like our options get slimmer by the day. Where’s safest in terms of wellbeing and the economy? No one knows from one day to the next.

Anxiety and stress: dealing with Coronavirus and an uncertain future

Whether you’re in a precarious situation like us, uncertain of the future; or, you’re feeling down, worried and downright isolated working from home for the foreseeable future, it’s easy to get caught up in the worry mindset. Oh yeah, I get that. There are people trapped in foreign countries right now, with no money or accommodation. Cruise ships with ill passengers being denied entry to ports. Sick with worry – that’s no way to live.

Author and spiritual teacher, Gabby Bernstein, shared very helpful tips that I’ve passed around to friends who are caught up in Coronavirus anxiety. In this blog, she talks about how to claim back a good night’s sleep, and about taking responsibility for your own thoughts. It’s worth a read.

How to deal with anxiety - our own experience

How to deal with anxiety – our own experience

Our ‘new normal’ includes:

  • limiting the amount of news and social media we’re consuming.
  • breathing! (don’t forget to do it).
  • we use ‘spare’ or ‘locked-in’ time to focus on creative projects, like our upcoming wellness travel podcast launch (perhaps timely, given the world’s predicament) – it’s called ‘Exhale’ which is referencing, appropriately, remembering to breathe!
  • taking the time to reevaluate what’s working in our business – getting prepared and positioned to be available when things pick up again and new opportunities arise out of such significant change.
  • acknowledging when things get too much and giving ourselves a break – there have been some tense moments over the past few weeks and it’s led to emotional and physical burnout for both of us.
  • looking for opportunities to laugh and live in the moment.
  • Keep the faith: our tips on finding hope in uncertain times are here
  • Yoga postures! See a tip from our friend Flavia Munn in the clip below, or here on Instagram.

 

 

Be present

As I write this, we’re safe at a house sit in the Bedfordshire countryside with our pups Maise and Mole and horses Haze and Roo. Cooper and I went into a 14 day self isolation after returning from Italy, and fortunately we are ok. Our biggest issue is sourcing groceries, but the kindness of neighbours has meant that strangers bring us food and check on us. Beautiful 💕

There are changes happening around us every single day, and we are practising the art of allowing and letting go of the plans we simply can’t make under the circumstances. We have a few options to consider, but are taking this day at a time. It’s taken some time to get to this head space though, to be able to write even this piece in a calm and collected manner. Tears and depression have presented. I’m a ‘planner’ by nature, and right now I can’t plan. It’s tough, but we’re all in it together regardless of status, race or colour. It’s like a disaster movie and we’re all playing a part.

Moving forward

There’s people I work with who hate the term ‘moving forward’, but I this it’s appropriate here and hope we can do it soon. Let’s pray the airlines keep running; that lost jobs are found again; and that we can continue to travel in the direction in which we’re called.

I hope wherever you are that you feel safe and connected, despite enforced social distancing. This too shall pass. And, it’s an opportunity to think about your future and how you’ll embrace change on the other side.

If you have tips or stories on how you’re going through all of this, let us know in the comments or on social media.

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

‘Digital nomad lifestyle’, for most of us who resonate with the term, means travelling + working. It sounds fun, and yeah it is. But it’s easy to fall into ‘holiday mode’, which means no income! Cooper and I have discovered that routine is critical when trying to maintain a healthy nomad lifestyle. Falling out of a routine means you can quite easily become demotivated. Hence, ‘holiday mode’, which doesn’t pay for this way of life consistently.

A few weeks back we realised our routine (or lack thereof) was letting us down. Over the past few months we’ve been refining a digital nomad routine that fits with our lifestyle, so we re-implemented the plan.

Maybe some of these tips will resonate with you too.

 

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

Plan daily, keep a diary

When you’re travelling and working on the road you need to be super organised. Use a diary! We plan our days in advance and share a Google calendar which tracks the work Cooper and I do together as well as individual workloads. We plan it all in, can see when it’s coming up, and try to stick to the times we’ve set. Quite often we will also plan time in for daily exercise or getting out and about.

Depending on where you are, your daily routines can fluctuate. A group of full time digital nomads have shared insight into how they manage their routine, on the Becoming a Digital Nomad blog.

Project plan within your week

We don’t just plan our days in advance, but our weeks too. Blocks of time are planned into our diary for project work. For example, we might have a three hour period marked as ‘website development’. We break that down into sections, so within that time frame we might want to achieve finding a new theme for the website and editing the copy on the home page. If we get those tasks completed in that time frame, we’ve achieved our goal for that day.

It’s very easy to plan a chunk of time for ‘a project’ but get distracted and overwhelmed on where to start, then not to anything of any real substance! But, if you plan smaller tasks into a larger section of time, you’re more likely to complete the priorities you’ve set for yourself.

Cooper and I catch up each morning to see where we’re up to and to reschedule anything that didn’t get done the day before. There’s obviously the need to be flexible if something more urgent needs to be prioritised.

 

Nomad lifestyle requires planning around disruption

Travelling between house sits or new locations means we lose work time. That’s totally fine, but we have come to accept that we need to give time to cleaning, packing, moving.

We used to plan work into our travel time (e.g. work on the train or plane), but it never gets done between being tired or having no space/internet/power. We now look ahead at what’s coming up and don’t schedule real chunks of work into that time.

Consequently, if Wednesday becomes our Saturday for the week, or we need to work on the weekend because we had some ‘days off’ during the week, so be it. But it’s in our diary. See points one and two.

Be accountable to someone else

We’ve made a deal to keep each other accountable. Diary alerts, alarms, nagging each other works. I’m pretty good at organising things, but Cooper’s better and making us stick to time. So, we work as a team to make our routine work to time.

If you don’t have a partner to do this, find other ways. You can appoint an accountability buddy who also runs their own business or freelances; connect on social media to prompt and encourage each other. Find meetups with other intrepid solo travellers, work at a coworking space or visit coworking cafes so there’s others with the same mindset around you.

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day

To stay out of holiday mode, stick to a sleep routine too. Science says that it’s far better for our health and wellbeing to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even if it’s your ‘day off’.

Find out more in this piece I wrote for Get it Magazine in October 2019.

Take breaks and make time for play

It’s important to step away from work. Maintain your work/life balance. We hear about this in the corporate world but it’s just as important when you’re working for yourself. And don’t mistake ‘travel’ for ‘holidays’.

There is a huge difference between being on a holiday, and travelling while we’re working.

Don’t get me wrong – we love that our office landscape changes frequently, and that we can explore new cultures and make new friends along the way. That’s fantastic! But we are trying to run a business and as anyone who works for themselves knows, that’s a seven days a week gig, and rarely 9am to 5pm.

It’s for this reason we do have to make sure we exercise, do Yoga, meditate. House and pet sitting keeps us in check though, because there’s always a dog who needs attention, walkies, ball time and love.

Keep in mind too, that if your body is telling you to take a break – re-prioritise – and do so! You’ve got the control over your time. The Morning Maryjolaine blog makes some nice points on this. See FOMO vs JOMO.

Switch off each night

For your mental health and wellbeing – switch your devices off at least an hour before bed. No social, no emails – step away from the machine, my digital nomad friends!

Got any other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.

 

Our favourite coworking cafes in east / north London

Our favourite coworking cafes in east / north London

We’ve previously talked about great attributes coworking cafes have. As freelancers and digital nomads ourselves, we’re always on the lookout for coworking cafes that offer key ingredients we need for a productive day away from the home office.

The best coworking cafes we frequent all look great and offer a nice, comfortable space to work in, the sound is just right, as is the vibe. And of course a coworking cafe needs decent WiFi and power outlets.

Cooper and I have always mostly hung out in north / east London, and we’ve got a few of our favourite coworking cafes in this part of the city to share with you here. Of course, if you suggest others, please do let us know in the comments.

Our favourite coworking cafes in east / north London

Mare Street Market, E8 4RU (London Fields)

My cool friend Rosie introduced us to this lovely east London destination. I’ve never seen anything like it! Mare Street Market is nothing short of what you’d expect from the excellent area that is Broadway Market and London Fields. The space here is huge, with a stylish bar in the centre of it all, and smaller counters or stores around the edge of the space, including a podcast studio, florist, record store and café.

Mare Street Market offers long benches for working on, and an ambient outdoor area. The food and drink selection is great.

Downsides of this coworking cafe space is that it can get very busy later in the day on weekends or when the sun is shining, and there’s not easy access to power supply. For an hour or two full of good cheer and stylish environment though, we love this place.

Tip: time your trip here with breakfast on Saturday morning, and a wander around Broadway Market, our favourite London market.

 

coworking cafes in London - Mare Street Market near London Fields is fab

 

The Last Crumb, N16 0AS (Stoke Newington)

This is a lovely little coffee shop – bright, airy, dog friendly, and conveniently positioned in the heart of Church Street, Stoke Newington. The Last Crumb is a reasonable size and has spacious tables to work out, with some access to power sockets. The coffee and snacks here are good too.

They offer the space up for events too, so keep an eye out for networking opportunities or local activities that may inspire further creativity.

 

coworking cafes in London - The Last Crumb on Church Street in Stoke Newington is charming with nice food

 

Barber & Parlour, E2 7DP (Shoreditch)

This is typically cool Shoreditch, with a delicious menu and great energy always. We’ve spent hours working at Barber & Parlour, mostly on Sundays. The vibe is relaxed, there’s plenty of space and different options for seating. Cooper and I have always found a spot by a wall with a power socket, and there’s internet here.

As for most good places, it does get very busy as the day draws on, so we usually get here early, do a bit of work and head off around lunchtime.

Barber & Parlour is positioned in the middle of Shoreditch, not very far from Spitalfields Market, so there’s plenty to see and do in the area, including the graffiti walk if you want to fill your Instagram feed.

 

Dudleys Organic Bakehouse, E8 2LQ (Dalston);

We’re sorry this wasn’t around when we lived in Dalston – Dudleys is a new addition to the high street, not far to walk from Dalston Kingsland overground. It’s a fabulous space with excellent snacks, coffee, tea, Wifi and nice atmosphere.

We love the vibe here. Sometimes the music could be turned down just a smidge, but as far as coworking cafes go, this is one of our new favourites!

UPDATE: now also a lovely little cafe on Stoke Newington High Street, open Monday to Sunday 8am to 5pm, right near The White Hart pub.

 

coworking cafes in London - join Campus London for inspiration

 

Google Campus London, EC2A 4BX (Old Street)

We discovered Campus London a good few years ago, prior to moving over here. This is a fabulous place for start-ups, freelancers, solopreneurs, tech and creative minds who want to learn, network and develop ideas together.

Campus London has a huge cafe dedicated to remote working. The whole place is pretty inspiring, and while I’ve not been there for a while, it’s always in my mind. You can sign up to access the facilities and their events. Find out more here. The slogan, ‘come start something’ says it all – so if you’re in the same frame of mind as us, let’s have a coffee here and make things happen.

 

Husk Coffee and Creative Space, E14 7LW (opposite Limehouse station)

This is a lovely, spacious spot, designed as a coworking cafe. Husk offers a variety of seating options including couches, small tables and benches. Food and beverages are aplenty; there’s an events calendar here too, and they host English practice get-togethers. A hive of creative energy!

 

Really keen to know what you think makes a great coworking cafe, and importantly where do you suggest, in London or the world? Let us know in the comments…

 

Freelance life: attributes of a great coworking cafe

Freelance life: attributes of a great coworking cafe

If you’re a freelancer, digital nomad or telecommuter, you’ll appreciate the value of a great coworking cafe. Not to be mistaken for a coworking space (which we’ll look at soon here on the blog), coworking cafes offer the best of a coffee shop but with work-friendly benefits.

The flexibility of working from home or remotely is, well, brilliant. But sometimes we need to get out into a place where there’s other people. This can be because ‘home’ (wherever you call it) is noisy, or lonely. I’ve done some of my best work immersed in ‘the zone’ in  a fave coworking cafe discovered around London, Vancouver, even Cairns in North Queensland.

The line between a coworking space and a coworking cafe is blurring, as some coworking cafes around the world are really set up very well for working in. Fresh Cup magazine has written about these trends happening in the USA that we found interesting.

If you have a favourite coworking cafe I’d LOVE to know about it – please drop details in the comments below.

 

a great coworking cafe needs to be well set up for freelancers and digital nomads

 

Attributes of a great coworking cafe

We seek work-friendly spaces everywhere we travel, from Ibiza to Lisbon, the Gold Coast to London. What distinguishes a normal café or space where it’s technically possible to work, from a fabulous coworking café space that’s free, motivating and easy to work in?

In our experience, a cool coworking cafe has:

 

Space and cool design elements

Our very favourite coworking cafes in London and around the world inevitably offer a sensory and design experience that we can’t get in the home office. In fact, it’s recognised that coworking cafes and coworking spaces of the future that are to attract the most clientele, will boast cool design. We want to be creatively inspired, and it starts with the architecture and interiors of the places we’re working.

Hotel cafes and bars often do this really well. The Hoxton in Holborn and W Hotel’s Perception Bar in Soho London, and Room Mate Aitana in Amsterdam are great examples.

 

a coworking cafe needs just the right amount of buzz

 

Essentials in a coworking café also include comfortable seating and a nice amount of space. Various options for working such as bench space, tables, seating at different heights and maybe even some sofa areas are also preferable.

Our favourite coworking cafes are bright, inspiring, interesting but ultimately cosy. They’re convenient, with easy access to transport and other amenities in a city we’re visiting or working in.

 

Delicious coffee and food (fuel!)

There’s nothing quite like the tantalising smell of fresh food and coffee while you work. I especially like it when I’m not having to cook it. That’s just me though.

A coworking café should offer great coffee and a range of food, from treats to lunch. Preferably at reasonable prices.

 

Energy and ambience 

There’s a fine line between ‘just right’ and ‘too much’ in cafes targeting freelancing or digital nomads. Cooper and I need to find a place that plays agreeable music. This obviously might differ person to person. The best type of work soundtrack for me is smooth House or world music like Buddha Bar. I don’t want music blaring, but I’d like to be able to hear it and enjoy it.

Similarly, if the crowd in the café is too noisy, or there’s kids running around, I can’t work effectively.

My best experiences in coworking cafes are when the energy is buzzing and there’s other people working in there. Sometimes you can catch the right level of background activity like food prep, conversation and background noise that makes it easy to focus on the task at hand.

Dog friendly is always a bonus!

 

Easy access to decent tech

We’re talking about ‘working’ after all, and there are some basics that all remote workers will agree on:

  • Stable, quick, reliable internet
  • Inexpensive internet access (if not free)
  • A secure connection is preferable. That said, we have recently purchased a VPN to keep our networks private when we’re working out and about. Reputable firewalls and virus protection should also be implemented on your machines. For more on safety for digital nomads take a look at this helpful piece from Traveling Lifestyle
  • Plenty of accessible power outlets – the scramble for the only corner in the room with an electrical socket is never fun.

 

Know a spot that fits the criteria? Also keen to hear about what other elements you consider are crucial in a work-friendly coffee shop. Do please share in the comments.