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Business + Lifestyle

By Sharon Johnson, owner and president of Costa Rica Tours Ltd. and NAWBO-Charlotte member

My health was the catalyst that sparked my journey to owning my tour business, Costa Rica Tours Ltd. Having worked 20 years in the corporate world, I never expected to do anything different. That was until chronic health conditions became critical and I was forced to stop working.

Losing my health and my job at the same time was devastating, which is why I was determined to view it as an opportunity for change. I started researching my health issues and decided to study to become a health coach as a way to understand how to be healthy and, perhaps, once I was well enough, help others through coaching.

My health coaching certification led to me write a book called The Nature of Change, in which I outline my philosophy for healthy living. I share that the secret to balance and contentment is to realign your life with nature and embrace change as the conduit. In the book, I encourage people to get out in nature more; to view adventure and travel as channels by which they can build their relationship with our natural world.

I have always had the desire to explore, thanks in part to my father who would take us to discover waterfalls, hiking in the mountains and sailing; he had a knack for turning everything we did into an adventure. I had my first taste of travel when I was managing editor and travel writer for a magazine in South Africa. My restlessness to see more of the world eventually took me to London and the U.S., where I continued to travel as much as I could and started to design trips for friends and family.

I started exploring how to align my passion for travel with my health coaching certification and interest in green living. My vision was to design tours around wellness, adventure, sustainability and nature, so when I saw a Costa Rica travel business for sale last year, it seemed the perfect fit.

I purchased Costa Rica Tours Ltd., which was owned by a NAWBO member, and started a whole new chapter as a business owner and NAWBO member. While continuing to offer the existing tours to Costa Rica and Panama, I also wanted to realize my vision for a Wellness Tour. I feel I have come full circle from my health crisis, with the first Wellness Tour taking place in Costa Rica in July.

Here are my top tips for a healthy you and, ultimately, a healthy business:

1) Make time for play.

Owning a business is demanding and often requires working late and on weekends. The downside is you become super-focused on the business and neglect time to play. Studies show that playtime keeps us healthy.

2) Try office yoga.

You might get funny looks, but try to break the day up with basic yoga stretches to unkink your back from computer-induced tension.

3) Take it outside.

Decide whether there are tasks that you don’t have to do from behind a desk. Take your laptop out to the deck to work in the sunshine or go to the local park with your reading materials. The dose of fresh air and vitamin D will go a long way toward keeping you healthy.

4) Cut down on caffeine.

When deadlines are looming or stress is causing sleepless nights, we all reach for coffee to perk us up. Instead of having a cup of coffee first thing, try starting the day with a glass of cold water. It will wake you up fast and rehydrate your body after the night’s sleep. Follow that with green or black tea—you will get a smaller dose of caffeine, plus a host of health benefits.

5) Sleep tight.

Stress is the worst for interrupting sleep. If you find you wake up in the night with your brain racing with your to-do list, the most effective natural sleep aide I can recommend is magnesium. There are various different options, so research one that will work for you.

6) Switch off from the business.

This is a hard one I know, but you can’t stay connected to the business 365 days a year. If you vacation in a location that has wireless, you will not be able to resist working. Choose an off-the-grid vacation to force yourself to remove all electronic stimuli for at least a week. Reconnecting with the energy of nature has been proven to benefit your health.


For more information on Costa Rica Tours Ltd. in Charlotte, North Carolina, visit www.costaricatoursltd.com.

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