How I Thrive takes an inside look at founders and entrepreneurs and the behind-the-scenes self-care work they do to in order to live balanced, happy lives. Today's edition is with RENTALYA co-founder and CEO Nisha Balwani, whose inbox is currently at 0.
Name: Nisha Balwani
City: New York, NY
Company: RENTALYA, a rental platform that makes Indian fashion accessible and affordable for all
Role: Co-founder and CEO.
Beyond the role: Yoga teacher in training, coffee shop enthusiast, bookworm.
There’s a lot of talk about how your morning routine can set you up for success. While I'm still working on improving mine, I’ve really taken this advice to heart and grown to cherish my morning routine! The first thing I do when I wake up is drink a glass of hot water and (guilty as charged) check my phone. I make it a point not to respond to any emails or messages at this time, though. Instead, I wash my face and hit the gym. I spend around 45 to 60 minutes in the gym strength training. After the gym, I take a quick shower and listen to my favorite news podcasts, Robinhood Snacks and NPR’s Up First, as I get ready.
I keep my getting ready routine really simple, especially on the days that I don’t have any big meetings or events, with a focus on skincare rather than makeup. I follow a morning skin-care routine that includes Vitamin A and C serums and a lot of moisturizer (especially in the NYC winter!). I use Bare Minerals face powder and swipe on some Glossier mascara. If I do have a meeting or event, I just add Kosas face oil and a liquid eyeliner to the routine. My daily uniform is either a rented outfit from Rent the Runway, an Everlane top with Levis jeans, or when I don’t feel like wearing real clothes, my favorite Lululemon leggings and a hoodie.
Anyone who knows me knows I meal prep religiously on Sunday nights. Every morning, I pack whichever meals I need for the day, depending on my meeting schedule. For breakfast, it’s usually overnight oats with greek yogurt or egg whites with sweet potatoes and spinach. I spend my thirty minute subway ride to the office reading a book. While some of my favorite books are naturally business-related, recently I've been enjoying reading fiction after noticing that it lowers my stress and enhances my creativity. My group of girlfriends started a book club, and our current pick that I’m devouring is Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. More often than not (OK, almost every day), I stop by the Seven Grams coffee shop next door to our office and grab a (large) black coffee with a splash of oat milk.
The first thing I do after work:
In true startup fashion, our days end late and we tend to take our work home with us. Recently, I’ve become better at recognizing the days when I need an hour in the evening to unplug and melt into an evening hot yoga class. Just this one hour away from thinking actually rejuvenates me and powers me through the rest of the night.
I learned overtime that my ideal social schedule to maintain my sanity is two, max three, dinners or events in a week. I actively try to set this boundary, and while it’s easier said than done, I find that focusing my energy on maintaining strong connections versus many loose acquaintances helps immensely. Friday night is date night, and while we like to try new places, we often find ourselves at some of our favorites like Ilili, Shuka, and Rahi. If I find myself eating dinner at home or at the office, it’s (no surprise) a meal prepped meal, probably consisting of chicken or salmon, quinoa or sweet potato, and a mix of veggies.
I catch up on my messages (text, Slack, Instagram, oh my) and try to get my inbox to zero. I review my calendar and tasks for the following day. Before bed, I take a long shower to relax. I tidy up my apartment and get my gym clothes and outfit ready for the next day.
Self-care guilty pleasure:
Regular mani pedis. I swear I work better when my nails are perfectly manicured!
Self-care hack during the workday:
Change my environment and leave the laptop behind. When I’m feeling super overwhelmed, I grab my notebook or the book I’m reading and head to a nearby coffee shop. Depending on what I need, I either do a “brain dump” in my notebook, where I write everything in my mind in a bullet format, or I read a chapter or two of my book to unplug.
I lean on my support system of fellow entrepreneurs if I feel like I need to talk to someone. Taking a 10-15 minute break to call my mom or brother (both fellow business owners!) or grabbing a coffee with my co-founder always makes me feel supported and grateful.
How I define self-care:
Self-care really comes from knowing yourself and what you need. It’s a process that takes time to develop and can change depending on what is going on in your life. While it’s an active process and should be done with intention, it doesn’t need to be some big thing; they call them "simple pleasures" for a reason.
Favorite childhood toy or hobby:
Indian dance. There was a long period of my childhood where I thought I would move to Mumbai and become a Bollywood star ... dreaming big was clearly encouraged in my household!
State of your (email) inbox:
0 unread, but tons of flagged emails to follow up on!
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Illustration by Megan Behrendt