Healthier Living in Costa Rica
Give Yourself The Gift Of A Retreat Into Nature And Your Deeper Self
If you realize that you don’t like something about your life, why not change it?
There are three main reasons why people move to Costa Rica: a more peaceful environment, access to majestic nature, and better weather. And what these three things really amount to is better health.
Men’s Health Spain recently chose Costa Rica as the top healthy travel destination in the world. Spain is already one of the top four countries for the volume of tourists coming to Costa Rica from Europe. Readers of the magazine said that after a year of sheltering indoors, they want a summer of health and wellness. The publication is likely to bring Costa Rica more health-conscious visitors, calling the country “a sustainable sanctuary [that] deserves the award because its settings are perfect for sports.”
Costa Rica may be just the cure that many need after a complicated year. The natural world is important to our health. It is the primary antidote to burnout from too much technology and consumption. Screens and buttons beckon for our attention everyday. But a more nature-filled life in Costa Rica can provide the opportunity for a great reset to our state of mind, body and spirit.
Eating Healthy in Costa Rica
According to a 2015 study by Bloomberg, Costa Rica ranks as the healthiest country in Latin America and second to Canada in all of the Americas. South Pacific Costa Rica is rich with fertile lands that amply grow many kinds of superfoods. Some of the most healthy foods grow natively across Costa Rica. This lush landscape is an easy place to be more health conscious.
Expats and locals have been making healthy living even more accessible in recent years by creating artisan products and experiences that take advantage of the gifts from the land. They make organic products with love and attention, with the care that they have for themselves and their families shared with the community. Organic markets, cafes and restaurants are everywhere, stocking fresh produce from the weekly farmer’s markets that can be found in every small town. And small business stores sell all-natural products made by local craftspeople.
Fresh, hydrating coconut water is everywhere. Noni fruit and guanabana are filled with powerful phytochemicals, as are coffee and cacao, all of which are indigenous to Costa Rica. People who spend extended periods of time in Costa Rica end up losing weight without even trying. Being surrounded by fresh foods and a clean environment helps us more easily choose less processed foods.
Natural Playgrounds For Fun Fitness
Costa Ballena’s coastal mountains provide a vast outdoor playground that is perfect for fitness and fun. One day, you could be surfing the waves and walking the beach. Next, you are hiking up a riverside path to a waterfall with a swimming hole. In the morning, you might fall into meditation while digging in the garden with birds chirping in the trees all around. There are countless ways to enjoy the varied natural landscapes in our South Pacific communities that are well-traveled but sometimes feel like you’re totally remote, far away from civilization.
Environment Enhancing Our Mind States
Plants, in particular, change our perception. According to renowned plant journalist, Michael Pollan, when we see trees and green, we get a feeling of being human. “Plants represent life. They represent bounty, food, and health.” For these reasons, we gravitate towards nature. Being in nature has a nourishing feeling and gives us positive bodily reactions.
“Our bodies are wired for being in nature,” says Pollan. “It connotes health, food to be found, trees producing things to eat. It is a powerful experience to be in nature.”
Environmental stressors trigger our fight or flight response and get in the way of making healthy connections. The pandemic has changed our core interactions with each other and our environment to be founded in a base level of stress. Setting good intentions for our health and wellbeing can make us more compassionate citizens.
Costa Rica is dense with life-filled, natural environments. Creating conscious connections with the natural world around you can help you feel enlivened, focused, and at peace. A review of thirty studies found that being in a contemplative, mindful state in nature can lower cortisol levels, a marker of stress, more than taking part in other relaxation activities. Time in nature also appears to lower depression levels in adults according to a review of 28 studies. And it is also found to boost the activity of natural killer cells that help fight off infections and cancer.
Nearly half of Costa Rica is covered by forests, which house around 6.5% of the earth’s total biodiversity. Plants and trees communicate with us through releasing high concentrations of phytoncides, which are airborne essential oils that provide a natural immunity boost. This phytoncide immersion can have health benefits that last for weeks.
Grounding, also known as earthing, involves performing activities that reconnect our bodies with the earth. The simplest form of this activity is walking barefoot on the earth. Living in cities, we are often blocked from this most natural connection between our feet and the earth. The benefits of grounding can be most readily felt when we go to the beach. It’s easy to go barefoot on the beach and many of us will readily admit that the beach is one of the places we feel most relaxed.
Friendly, Tranquil Communities
We tend to feel less stress in Costa Rica because the people here are more friendly and easy going. Most who live here have patience for the inconveniences in life and will readily give understanding smiles rather than frustrated frowns.
The great weather in Costa Rica also helps to put people in a better mood. The higher humidity and temperature alleviate arthritis pain and bring blood pressure down. More sunlight puts us in a better mind state and feeds us with a healthy dose of vitamin D all year around.
By reconnecting with our natural environments, we stimulate our need to protect it. Costa Rica is a developing country with less pollution than most. More than 99% of Costa Rica’s electrical grid is run on renewable resources. It is becoming a modern country while still retaining clean air and water. One quarter of the country is protected natural habitat and 50 percent of the land is forested, with more being added every year. Nature is a strong focus for Costa Rica, even inside the biggest cities. It is evident in their motto ‘pura vida’ and the desire of Costa Ricans to experience the purest form of life.
Time for a retreat?
After a year of non-stop health worries, it is time to consider a health retreat. Healthy eating, physical activity, adequate rest, and relaxation — these are the foundations for delivering a memorable and sometimes even life-changing experience and Costa Rica delivers well on all fronts.