You know what isn’t talked about enough? The PTSD that comes after a life-changing diagnosis or health scare. That stuff changes a person! Following Blair’s T1 diagnosis, my already present anxiety from my own health hiccups through the years (a nervous breakdown caused by burnout for one) seemed to explode out of control. But I am always so grateful to find and discover tools and things that help combat areas like this. For today’s edition of Wellness Wednesday I wanted to dive into how I am managing stress and anxiety with a little wearable device that has made a big difference.
Unfortunately, when medical and health scares compound it can not only have an effect on our mental health, but our physical health as well. When I was 17, I had my gallbladder removed. Following that surgery, I developed blood clots that were near fatal. While the blood clots were simply a side effect of surgery with no lasting implications, having my gall bladder removed completely changed my gut health. Unfortunately, I was left with no education on this subject. Somewhere along the lines, we decided that we can remove organs with no long-term effect on the body. Hello! They were put there for a reason!
From that surgery, I was left with a body that, over time, would struggle more and more with digesting food. This created a severely sensitive stomach over the next few years – reactions from certain foods, reactions when stressed or anxious, you name it. And let me tell you – when you get put in enough situations with a sensitive stomach that decides to get squirrely at any given moment? It’s a quick route to developing anxiety surrounding social situations. And that gut-brain connection is oh-so real.
That is the first part to this entire root-cause tale. The second? My nervous breakdown was brought on by burnout. It compounded my slightly present anxiety and destroyed my gut health. Then the third and final (who am I kidding) installment was Blair’s diagnosis two years back. One that caused my anxiety to be brought on by so much more than just social situations. And one that raised my stress levels exponentially.
I suddenly was too worried to sleep at night, something as simple as a cold that someone got in the house would make me spiral, and medical appointments (or anything away from home really) made me anxious to the point of being sick. I’m talking in past tense, but please know that this is very much an ongoing journey. A debilitating and isolating journey at times to get back to myself and experience optimal health again. One that has had us doing everything possible – from ditching processed foods to tossing toxic products and chemicals in our home.
A while ago I was introduced to Apollo Neuro. They created a wearable device to help in areas such as this in a non-invasive way. And you know me – anything that is a natural approach to combat health hiccups and complications I am absolutely game to try. Because finding a tool that truly makes a difference in our wellness without medication is priceless. Why? Because medication is a Band-aid solution most times (a blessing where it is truly needed for sure). However, I want to get to the root cause of an issue if and when I can. It’s not the immediate gratification that we have become accustomed to in this day in age. However, it is so beyond worth it.
Anyway, back to Apollo Neuro. It’s a wearable device that was created by neuroscientists and some other really smart people and, goodness gracious, I am just so incredibly thankful for them. When we go into that fight or flight mode, the Apollo uses vibrations to help restore the nervous system. Kind of like a factory reset for our bodies. In the clinical trials they have completed thus far, they saw that users experienced 40% less stress and feelings of anxiety, 19% more time in deep sleep, and up to 25% more focus and concentration.
In all honesty, I had reservations about how much of a difference this little device would be able to make. I mean, I have been struggling through these issues for YEARS. But when Jarett asked me how I felt it was going after wearing it for several weeks? I fought back a few tears as I recalled all of the times I noticed such a remarkable difference and the resulting relief from it.
I remember we were driving to a baseball game a month or so ago. The whole family was in the car. Blair spoke up and mentioned to Jarett and me that she felt a little funny and was going to do a finger poke to check her blood sugars. The meter read in the 40’s, much lower than her Dexcom was alerting us. We were in the middle of traffic and still a ways from our destination. That anxious feeling was immediately present with my stomach ailments not so far behind it. After giving her a few Smarties, I closed my eyes and just tried to take some deep breaths – anything to get my mind off of physical symptoms from the stressful situation.
Waiting at a red light, I realized that I was wearing my Apollo. I grabbed my phone, opened the app, and turned on the calm setting that is pre-programmed. The device started vibrating softly and I put my head back and continued to take quiet, deep breaths. The biggest thing I can do in these moments is to get out of my head and away from the “what if” thoughts.
By the time we got to the next light, I realized that my body was no longer struggling in fighting back any physical symptoms. I continued to tend to Blair as her number ticked back into normal range as we neared the ball field. Normally, it would take me some time to calm my stomach and get to feeling normal after a situation like this. However, I was relieved to feel completely fine.
There are things that I have come to learn that have to be part of my daily routine to help maximize any efforts in improving my health.
First and foremost, I know I have to get proper sleep. This can prove to be slightly more difficult with a child whose blood sugar levels always have to be monitored. Luckily in the way we have decided to approach Type 1 management with proper diet, these times are few. I also know that I have to move my body every day. This not only helps with my overall health, but especially, my mental health. Staying hydrated is a big one as well as eating the foods I know will help my gut health and not hinder it such as caffeine, processed foods, and sugars. And lastly, I continue to perfect my supplement regimen in what I use to support my body daily.
Outside of that, however, things like the Apollo Neuro make such a difference and I love having it in my toolkit now. Whether it is to help me fall asleep quickly when it’s time instead of lying away wrestling with stressful thoughts or in social situations that I know might have me a bit anxious. It truly has made all the difference in helping me get out of my head a bit, reset the nervous system, and get back to doing all the things.
Within the app, I am able to pre-schedule times throughout my day when the Apollo will begin working in the way that I need it to. It will go from helping me focus while working to winding down at the end of a busy day. Who am I kidding – they’re all busy! But I love how much it has helped me feel like myself which, in turn, allows me to show up the way I want and need to for my family. I have loved it so much though that we are getting Blair her own to help with her anxieties surrounding her condition and managing Type 1 diabetes.
While I partnered up with Apollo Neuro last month for mental health awareness month on Instagram, sharing it here on KaraLayne.com is all me. Simply because I fell in love with it and saw such a difference that I wanted to make sure you knew about it too. The science behind the power of touch is fascinating and how it helps to balance the nervous system. You can read more about it all right here along with the brilliant minds behind it. Forever grateful for those finding and creating solutions that are safe, effective, and non-invasive.
Hopefully, this gave you a good peek into how I am managing stress and anxiety daily using intentional habits as well as Apollo Neuro. If you ever have any questions about the Apollo, I am always happy to answer them and share more of my own experience in using it. I was also so thrilled that the team at Apollo Neuro gave me an ongoing discount code to share with you so you can get your own and experience a change. Simply plug in ‘KARALAYNE’ at checkout to receive $39 off!
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Cheers to adding valuable tools to our wellness arsenal. Happy Wednesday and thank you so much for being here!
If you want to dive into more wellness and the journey I have been on, click here.