“People are strange: they are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.” ~ Charles Bukowski
There is a remedy that will release anxiety, help with depression, produce more focus, and cultivate a life filled with vitality and abundance.
The best part? This remedy is practically free.
When I discovered the power of this tool, there was no looking back.
I used to live in the land of Pura Vida, which is the motto used in Costa Rica that directly translates to “pure life.” People use this expression as a response to how they’re doing, as a greeting, and most of all it points to encompassing a way of life.
Generally, the locals and expats that I had the pleasure of meeting in the two years that I lived there lead very happy, fulfilled lives. They always smiled, were always stoked, and knew how to have a great time, no matter the day of the week. Sure, they live in paradise, but there’s more to it.
They are all connected. And they embrace one another.
There are abundant raw elements—from the sea to the dense jungle which becomes a form of therapy and cleansing.
Have a busy day? Go for a surf before work.
No swell? Hike it out and listen to the singing life hidden in the trees that cloaks your spirit with dense, rich oxygen all while sweet scents from rich soil and budding fruits cascade into your being.
Need to let loose? Meet up with the gang at 4 p.m. on Saturday for the weekly surf competition, where the feeling of community is strong, and the love is abundant.
Life is simple, and people are genuinely happy.
While the climate and natural environment became an obvious component to my well-being, the noticeably different way of life that everyone seems to adopt created the most transformative aspects of my behavior: slowing down, becoming more present, and appreciating my surroundings, myself, my life and all the beings in it.
I suffer from depression, anxiety, and the odd panic attack. The usual. Well, usual for North Americans as I would soon come to understand. Living in a community where connection to the elements and with each other is so profound, I began to notice how little stress the average person experienced.
People live their lives and work with joy. The balance is healthy, and everyone thrives.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Stress still happens, and we are all human. But the way people in Costa Rica cope with stress is quite different to how the average person living in North America copes.
During my last months there, I had formed rituals of watching the sunset with close friends, biking to a group training class, and constantly going on new adventures—trying new things and really flexing my capability muscles.
Now, I am back living in Canada—in a cold city, amid the hustle and bustle.
At first, I was optimistic. I still had a healthy dose of Pura Vida running in my veins. But after time, I began to feel detached from myself and from community. I really started to feel lost.
I landed a job that allowed me to utilize my expertise as a Certified Health Coach. Eager, I jumped into the workforce grind and didn’t think twice.
I literally made myself sick, crying in the fetal position, on more than one occasion.
As I put on a mask to face my clients, I noticed a mirror of myself in nearly 95 percent of all the people I saw.
Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are ailments that people are commonly diagnosed with and they are given prescription pills to cope with it all. They take the pills, and carry on with their masks and band-aids, never getting to the root cause of their symptoms.
I ask: “Do you have any idea what may trigger these symptoms for you?”
Answer: “Work related, for sure.”
Whoa, me too.
Work related—that’s why I have been feeling such a disconnect. The balance I once had, and the joy for life, were totally gone. It became a routine of: Up in the morning, hope to exercise, hope to meditate, late for work, work, mental exhaustion, attempting to work on passion projects, no energy to do so, have a terrible sleep—and repeat.
Burn out comes on quickly with this sort of routine. And I saw it in my clients and felt it strongly in myself.
When I voiced my feelings to my employer, I couldn’t help but feel like I was an annoyance. I didn’t feel heard or appreciated. These were feelings I hardly witnessed while living in Costa Rica. They have a mutual understanding for living, thriving, and connecting on a human-to-human level.
However, I spoke my truth and changes were made to help with my work/life balance. Still, I felt like an annoyance.
I had to be strong and stand my ground. This made me wonder how many people felt the same emotions as I did, but are too afraid to speak up for what will best serve them. This is what I noticed in my clients—they are fearful of speaking their truth, so they speak to me. And then they feel better, lighter, heard, and appreciated.
At the end of the day, we all want to be heard and reassured that everything is okay. We may not realize this is what we’re seeking—to feel connected, purposeful, and have a life well-lived, filled with vitality, gusto, and meaning.
It seems that in many workplaces in North America, this understanding has been lost and there is an almost mandatory expectation to live a way of life that is rushed, stressed, frustrated and, well, un-joyful.
Many of us are pushing through day in and day out. Existing, not thriving. With what to show for it? A paycheck we spend to numb our sadness? Is it worth it?
We tend to fill a void we don’t quite understand—with overconsumption, substance abuse, and disengaging from community.
The fundamental right to live, not just survive, is lost.
What if we engaged? Held each other accountable and gave each other permission to communicate, be angry, speak up, and stand up for ourselves—connect and talk instead of numbing ourselves into silence.
It may sound crazy, but this simple practice of communication with one another may cause healthier habits to form. We may find that we take control of our life’s meaning, and reawaken our zest for life.
There may not be the abundant raw elements such as in Costa Rica for us to always seek therapy, but there are abundant humans that unknowingly feel the same feelings. And we can help each other, by opening to each other. We have each other as a resource.
Talk therapy: Expressing our pain and our frustrations is one of, if not the most therapeutic and healing habits we can form to begin the process of living vibrantly again. Utilizing a mindful way of speech, and a mindful way of listening.
Talk therapy is fundamental to a life well lived, to understand one another and to connect back to our core values.
From my observations as a health coach and as a human reentering North American society, I am realizing how detached many of us feel, from ourselves, and from our purpose.
This may make us feel small, hinder us from speaking up, and feel inadequate in our perusal of our passions––opening ourselves to potential bullying in the work place, in life, and from ourselves.
Our employers may very well be experiencing the same pressures, so it is vital to have awareness that no matter a person’s role in the workplace, we are all worthy of happiness, and we all wish for happiness. However, the lack of communication between roles in a workplace kills the sense of community, and frustrations can arise.
If we could realize how profoundly not alone we are in feeling all of this and instead connected on feeling disconnected, perhaps we could all help one another heal.
Sharing our thoughts before we self-medicate may create a shift in societal norms within the workplace, shifting from the mandatory stress to a pleasant balanced life.
It’s a practice. But imagine if we all took part and challenged one another. Instead of irrational purchases, excessive drinking, substance abuse, overeating, and other numbing behaviors, what if we slowed down, took a breath, and gave ourselves the alternative to call someone and talk about the urge to consume?
Ask: Why do I feel this? What is this behavior showing me? Trying to tell me?
Ask a friend, family member, or counselor. By forming a habit of reaching out and examining what’s happening within, we may realize that what is lacking is simply connection, creativity, or even a good laugh.
We don’t need things; we need each other.
We need to feel purposeful and connected. And above all, we need to allow open communication instead of numbing band-aids and masks.
Being immersed back into a society that attempts to sell us on how to “relax” after a workweek, I struggled to find my own balance and lost touch with my self. I found myself consuming wine to get through the last hours of the day.
It isn’t easy to navigate through turbulent emotions or to define what triggers us. However, having a community to open up to helps. In doing so, we begin to realize what we have been lacking in life:
Connecting through creation.
Life is not just about paying bills and then dying. There is more outside of the workplace.
As I lived and was witness to life in Costa Rica: It is possible to create a healthy balance between work and life. It starts with us being true to our boundaries and communicating them. When we don’t, this is when we start to suffer more than necessary and when feelings of anxiety, depression, and insomnia heighten or begin to manifest.
When these symptoms are heightened, we may feel weak and find it hard to stand up for ourselves. We may allow ourselves to become easily manipulated and potentially taken advantage of, both in work relationships and personal ones.
Treating employees as humans, and connecting with them on a human and emotional level builds trust, loyalty, and greater work ethics, thereby creating a by-product of a healthy workplace environment. Employees are people; they deserve to be treated as such.
This creates awareness on both sides: Employee to employer, and employer to employee.
We have each other as a resource to work through internal tension, utilizing the valuable tool of talk therapy to get to root causes in the workplace and help create a thriving existence for all.
Life is not about working to the bone. It is about connection, having meaning, purpose, and passions, appreciating one another and having the time to appreciate all the beauty that is this world.
So let’s talk it out.
The sooner we release internal tension, the faster we release ourselves from ailments that create sickness, and hinders the most precious relationships around us: Our children, parents, pets, and closest friends.
We owe it to these relationships to stand up for ourselves and take action in our life. So we can show up, authentically be the best version of ourselves and make a lasting impact in the world through our work and our passions.
What it comes down to is a choice.
Do we choose to live in silence, allowing our right to a thriving life pass us by?
Or, do we make the bold changes and speak up for ourselves? Choosing to be seen, acknowledged, and appreciated.
We all need a helping hand and guidance to get to the root of how we are feeling. When we are clear, we understand what we need to do.
Shifts to a healthier way of life come with ease.
And if we fall or start to feel lost again; talk therapy, community, and immersing in connection is a sure way to get us back on our feet.
No prescription required.
Author: Kendra Adachi
Editor: Travis May