Behind Apollo Neuro is a team that lives and breathes the mission to empower people to take charge of their mental health and live healthier, happier lives. Though the team exists and operates in the world of stress management, we’re not immune to stress and its many implications. But we are privileged to have access to the latest science and strategies for staying calm, rested, focused, and grounded. Through a series of Apollo team member highlights, we’ll share a diverse range of perspectives on mental health and wellness.
In a recent conversation with Apollo Neuro’s Performance Marketing Manager, Stephanie, we discussed managing anxiety, avoiding burnout, and what self-care really looked like this past year.
Has your approach to mental health changed in the last year?
The way I define self-care has changed pretty drastically. I used to think of self-care as a justification of whatever I wanted it to be at that moment, which led to an unfulfilling, fleeting cycle of instant gratification. The past year forced me to look beyond the surface and address the root cause instead of numbing the symptoms. That shift in thinking made me progress unknowingly toward an overall lifestyle change. For me, self care is consistency. Consistently taking the time to care for my body and mind.
I try to strike a balance between being productive without reaching a point of burnout. But when all I focus on is productivity, I overlook everything else I need to be a whole person. I really wanted to find a healthy balance.
How does anxiety impact your day to day work?
When you’re an anxious person like me, you overthink, you ruminate, you play every interaction you have on repeat, and it’s not comfortable. It’s not a comfortable state of mind. I wanted to get out of this pattern. Now that I use Apollo daily, I’ve seen a huge difference in how I manage my anxiety. It lets me see without a lens clouded by anxiety.
I had never heard of Apollo when I started working here in May of 2020. Apollo’s mission resonates deeply with me — in addition to General Anxiety Disorder, I’ve been dealing with treatment-resistant depression for the past 20 years. Working for a company that wants to improve the quality of life for people struggling with the same conditions I am is incredibly rewarding.
How do you manage your anxiety?
I’ve been on a daily benzodiazepine for much longer than I’d like to be. I had tried long tapering plans to try to get off daily anti-anxiety medication before, but always felt my old symptoms creeping back and ended up back at my original dose. It wasn’t until using Apollo consistently for a few months that I actually started to feel comfortable enough to start tapering down again — of course, under the guidance of my psychiatrist. I went from taking a moderate dose twice a day to just one tiny dose a day—an 88% decrease. I should be completely off benzos in a few months.
Once I started tapering down, I was surprised I didn’t miss the bigger dose. When I’m feeling anxious, I have other coping mechanisms.
What sort of coping mechanisms do you use now?
My meditation happens when I can focus on one thing intently instead of trying to clear my mind completely — stretching, exercise, walking my dog, watching my hummingbird feeder. I like moving meditation. I use Apollo on Meditation and Mindfulness to achieve that flow state while doing atypical meditative activities.
I learned a new framework from my therapist where I ask “is this helpful?” when I’m ruminating. This allows me to step back and answer: yes or no. If it’s a no, I try to push it out. Easier said than done, but removing myself from that state of mind is helpful. That could mean putting Apollo on Rebuild and Recover and taking a walk or putting on a song I love. If it’s a yes, then I can seek a solution more objectively. It’s sort of like a framework for evaluating my thoughts.
What’s the best small but impactful change you’ve made to help support this?
In looking at my triggers, I kept thinking about my phone and email. I try not to get on my phone for at least a half hour after I wake up. I used to check work emails in bed in the morning to feel like I was getting a head start on the day. I’d start the day thinking I need to answer every Slack and email right there and then. Now, I use a true alarm clock so I can show up for work when I’m mentally present and ready.
I also have integrated Apollo into my day, and that’s been incredibly pivotal in my mental health while I taper off my meds.
How do you use Apollo throughout the day?
I always wear Apollo on my ankle because I don’t notice it at all, so I don’t find it distracting. I normally start the day on Rebuild and Recover. My anxiety manifests in physical ways, and I tend to get a lot of pain in my jaw, neck, and shoulders. Especially in the morning.
I have a lot of video meetings throughout the day. And I use Social and Open on and off all day. It helps me feel energetic without being overstimulating. It helps me keep my energy focused and less scattered.
After work, I use Relax and Unwind to transition to chill mode after work, or whenever I’m feeling anxious. And, of course, I go to sleep with Sleep and Renew. I tend to use the double button trick (press both buttons to restart the most recent mode) if I wake up during the night. I like Energy and Wake Up for an energy boost before exercising without relying on supplements or caffeine.
With the help of Apollo, I’ve become less reactive, less paralyzed by anxiety, and able to move on from stressful situations more quickly.
Do you set boundaries and routines to help?
I definitely don’t have a perfect routine or strong boundaries. Somedays I just get through the day, and I think that’s worth celebrating. I’ve had periods where I think I’m going to do that perfect morning routine where I wake up, meditate, exercise, walk my dog, cook breakfast, and get dressed before 9am. Some mornings are like that. But to expect it every day is too much pressure, and I don’t want that first thing in the morning. I listen to what helps me, and follow what makes me feel good.
If I’m too attached to the outcome, I’m blind to any progress I make. I try to be easy on myself and not beat myself up. I don’t have a picture perfect morning or bedtime routine, but it works. I celebrate getting through the day if that’s all I can do that day. This year, that feels very remarkable. Just because I forgot to write down my gratitudes in my journal doesn’t mean I’m not grateful. I look at my dog, Henri, and just think, I’m so grateful for my dog. To me, this ties into mindfulness, just appreciating things in the moment without feeling obligated to journal it, for the sake of crossing an item off my list. By cutting out rumination and negative self talk, I’m able to live in the moment and not live in the past or the future.
Thank you for the beautiful and unfiltered share, Stephanie!