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  • Writer's pictureDaria Masterman

My top tips of dealing with stress or “Pura Vida” concept lessons.

We’ve all felt the elation of leaving work, and stress, behind when we go away on vacation, even those of us that love what we do need time away from it to rest and reset. A break to our normal pace of life, that is usually all too brief.

I have been blessed enough to experience new cultures and philosophies throughout my life. Read on to see how one of my more recent trips gave me a new mantra that I introduced when I returned home to improve my daily life.

It’s interesting to see how long it takes to switch off from one’s daily habits. I rediscovered this first hand when I was fortunate enough to have a two week break in the relaxing warmth of Costa Rica.

At first it always seemed that I needed to be somewhere and along with other people in our small group of travellers I kept checking our itinerary, the clock, and the horizon looking for the tourist bus to pick us up and deliver to a new scheduled adventure.

But life doesn’t work like this in Costa Rica. Everyone (including the custom’s officers!) is familiar with the “pura vida” concept there. It’s quite simple, really – directly translated as “pure life”. The “pura vida” concept is akin to the “akuna matata” one.

There are more important things in life than always being on time (especially on holiday), when there is wildlife waiting to be seen pretty much at every corner, conversations with friends, family, and just simply other human beings to be had, old ladies waiting to be helped to cross the road, delivering forgotten cameras to absent minded tourists – the list goes on.

Towards the end of the first week, it suddenly became clear to me, and I embraced this “go with the flow” lifestyle. Waking up with birdsong at 4am knowing that there is always an option of an afternoon nap. Exploring the bat colony at the hotel’s reception and waving to the local monkeys and iguanas on the way to breakfast. Learning not to take cover from the short and sharp showers – “it’s just water, it will soon dry off” the guide said. Discovering that if you stay still for long enough in nature, you are bound to see some wildlife as it is us visiting their environment, whilst they are going about their daily routines.

Days became refreshingly similar filled with their casual wonders, sunrises, waterfalls, amazing flora and fauna and the sense of being at one with nature. The concept of “pura vida” was starting to make a lot more sense.

Seasonal eating made a lot of sense too. Comparing the amazingly juicy and flavoursome local fruit and veg to the plasticky looking and tasting imported ones soon taught me which ones I’d rather order.

The real challenge began when I tried to apply the same concept to my “normal life” back home. Luckily, I’m swapping treatments with a fellow acupuncturist, and it really helped me with “hanging on” to the relaxed holiday feel and I’m pleased to report that I’m slowly implementing the “pura vida” concept in not-so-rural England.

Here are my top tips for stress-free life:

1. “Pockets of calm”

My top tip would be to create “pockets of calm” in your day, they could be as short as 10 minutes! Mine are 30-minute yoga sessions every other day and 30-minute daily lunch breaks where I switch off completely and enjoy a good cup of my favourite Darjeeling. Our body doesn’t need that long to recharge, a 10-minute power nap is all you need sometimes to get back to your chirpy “nothing can stop me” self.

2. Create lists

Calm is also instilled through the creation of lists. Lists really help to de-stress my days, removing tasks from my brain and putting them into my phone’s reminders, removes a level of stress as I needn’t worry that I will forget to do them.

If - unlike me - you are a very visual person, you can try creating a “mind map” instead of the list. Mind map is essentially a list but instead of words structured in 1-2-3 form it uses doodles freely arranged on a page. The main benefit of mind maps is that only you can read them. Here is the quick example of one:

3. Consider having an already done or easy to do item on your list or using a reward system

I know it may feel like cheating, but it really helps. For example, if I need to message several people, I may put it on my list and then complete this task right after writing my list – it gives me a sense of achievement and motivation to continue working through my list.

Give yourself a “pat on the back” once you have completed the most dreaded item on your list. Life is all about small victories.

And most importantly - don’t despair if you don’t complete all the items on your “to do” list. There’s more to life than a clean “to do” list!

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