Today I’m SO excited to feature an amazing human, Alexa Meyer, and her Wellness Wisdom Stack.
Alexa is currently building Coa, a home for therapy, emotional fitness classes, and community. Prior to that, she was the VP of Revenue at Keen IO and comes from a background of start-ups, product, and branding.
When I first met Alexa, her passion to make a difference in the mental health space was palpable.
When Alexa was 10, a family member unexpectedly passed away from suicide, leaving behind a great deal of unanswered questions in her young mind - the most pressing of which…Where do people go to take care of their emotions?
Fast forward a decade later, Alexa found herself immersed in the world of tech hustle culture. Working 16-hr days, she would fall mysteriously sick every quarter, and was constantly shrouded in a blanket of anxiety that just wouldn’t lift.
She decided to find a therapist. After months of trying, her first session began in a dingy waiting room at the back of an old building. She thought to herself: “This must be the reason why people shy away from therapy.”
Leaving the session, the starkness was further reinforced as she walked past warmly lit fitness studios bustling with people. If we have communities for our physical fitness, why not our emotional fitness? It was then that the idea for Coa was birthed: a 21st-century communal gym for the mind.
Today, I'm excited to share Alexa’s Wellness Wisdom Stack and how far she has come since that 1st therapy session. And it starts with her definition of self care:
🌊 Exploration: to continually discover what keeps your tank full to be the best human you can be.
😓 Not Always Comfortable: Consumerized wellness is trendy these days and a lot of people think self-care is throwing on a face mask and calling it a day. Those moments are important to have, but sustainable self-care is growing through pain. It’s hard work. If you're not uncomfortable, you're probably not growing.
How do you reflect, regulate, and distill emotions?
- Therapy - therapy has been life-changing for me. The best therapists draw on different methods (psycho-dynamic, DBT, CBT, ACT, etc.) in the moment to give you tools to address your ever-changing needs. It’s like having a personal AI for self-improvement. I found my therapist through my co-founder Dr. Emily Anhalt but recommend these resources if you’re looking for one:
- Coa (personal plug) - we offer highly personalized matching to vetted and experienced therapists. If you’re in SF, you can request a match here
- Psychology Today - features a huge rolodex of therapists
- My “AHA” moments in therapy - these were some of my biggest revelations:
- I am the common thread across all my interpersonal problems - this revelation enabled me to take responsibility for the one thing that I could control: my own interpretations and reactions, and not the actions of others.
- On the other side of defensiveness is a fear of vulnerability - I used to think of my defensiveness as a symbol of strength. Therapy helped me realize that this trait was actually a shield for my fear of vulnerability.
- You can’t avoid anxiety. Instead, lean into it. - Whenever I feel anxious, I often seek short-term relief with distractions or get frustrated with myself for feeling a certain way. Instead, what I’ve learned to do is stay with the discomfort. The sooner I do this, the sooner negative feelings dissipate.
- Bi-weekly touchbases with S/Os - I intentionally carve out time to get feedback. Hearing tough feedback is hard, but it has exponentially accelerated my growth.
- Boyfriend bi-weeklies - where we talk about what’s going well/not well, and opportunities for improvement in our relationship.
- Feelings Friday: I do weekly check-ins with my co-founder/team to explicitly talk about our feelings.
✏️Some additional resources she recommends:
- Nonviolet Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb -It is a hyper-relatable and entertaining way to understand the power of therapy for everyday people through real stories.
- Strengths Finder - to become more self-aware of your innate strengths.
- Dharmapunx NYC - Weekly talks on the intersection of contemporary psychology and early Buddhist insights given weekly.
How/what do you like to learn?
- Learn by listening - The best way for me to learn is through asking good questions, shutting up, and then listening to smart people talk. A few of my favorite questions to ask:
- What's something new you discovered recently?
- What are you reading?
- What frustrates you?
- More vulnerable: When is the last time you cried and why? What is something that makes you difficult to be around? (great self-awareness test!)
- The Feynman Learning Technique - is the method Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman used to ensure he understood anything he studied better than anyone else. The format follows 4 steps:
- Choose a concept you want to learn about
- Pretend you are teaching it to a student in grade 6
- Identify gaps in your explanation;
- Go back to the source material, to better understand
✏️ Some resources that she’s been nerding out on lately:
- The Great Ideas by Mortimer Adler - is a synopticon of semantic world themes that are universally true across borders and cultures.
- Twenty Minute VC - Harry Stebbings is high energy and the short format is jam-packed with delightful insights.
- Building the Intentional University - How to rebuild higher education from the ground up for the twenty-first century.
- The Courage to be Disliked - The Japanese phenomenon that teaches us the simple yet profound lessons required to liberate our real selves and find lasting happiness.
- Architecture of Happiness by Alaine De Botton - how physical spaces have evolved over time and how they support our well-being
What do you do when you want to take care of yourself?
- I believe sustainable self-care means finding what you need to feel at your best, and sometimes this isn’t always comfortable. But for other forms of self-care:
- Short-term hedonism
- Cooking - I usually rely on cookbooks. One of my favorites is Gjelina.
- Carbs - A good baguette or loaf of Tartine Olive bread, Pasta (!!!), charcuterie and cheese boards, and soft-baked pretzels
- Solo Dinners - I love taking myself out for wine and pasta at the Nopa bar counter.
- Orange Wine - If you love wine and have not tried orange wine, definitely check it out.
- Compounding self-care:
- Skincare: quarterly facials at Earthbody in SF. Daily routine of: milk cleanser, vitamin c moisturizer, SPF, and rose-water night cream
- Sleep: I like to wind down with a good book (currently reading: Fallen Leaves by Will Durant) and sometimes a magnesium supplement, which aids the nervous system in relaxation. I also use the Endel app for sleep music.
- Quarterly floats: I love doing floats at Reboot in SF. Seems gimmicky, but I legitimately get the best night of sleep after each float.
- Go into your body: As we live and work in the knowledge economy, our bodies are rarely involved in our work, and it’s more important than ever to move our body’s throughout the day in order to give our minds a break. I love taking walks outside at the start of each work day and doing HIIT workouts at Salt in SF
- I'm an intuitive eater: I usually eat what I feel like in the moment. If I'm craving pasta, I'll go for it. If I know I've had a few days of carbs, my body will usually crave greens and salmon.
- Daily supplements - I take Vitamin D & C daily. I also take Magnesium which is important for all sorts of bodily functions: brain health, muscle, sleep, digestion. Occasionally, I take Turmeric which is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammation.
- My happy place is solo-dining while working, reading, or journaling among the peripheral surrounding energy of other humans in a busy cafe or restaurant. Favorite SF Restaurants to do this in:
- Bar Crudo - the best seafood ever.
- The Progress
- Ragazza - local, cozy, italian
This concludes Alexa’s Wellness Wisdom Stack! Some of my key takeaways?
Sustainable self-care = growing through discomfort
The best therapists feel like a personal AI
Learn by asking good questions and teaching others
Invest in compounding self-care. It’s also ok to have cheat days!
When was the last time you wined and dined yourself?