Our super-busy CEO, Susie Ma, spills her secrets for resetting and finding balance in between the bends and folds of her bustling schedule...
At the end of a long day, what do you do to switch off?
“I really struggle with this one,” Susie tells me. “I put the setting on my phone which limits my screen time and I always have ‘sleep mode’ on to stop me from checking emails late at night, because ultimately nobody’s really going to be responding. In the evenings I love listening to jazz and piano music – it makes me feel fancy and relaxed. I like to eat a lot of food at night and a lovely big dinner actually sends me off to sleep really well, as long as I don’t try and doze straight after it of course!
“Oh, and I also sit in my lounge with the constellations in the galaxy projected onto my ceiling to relax. They spin and I feel like I'm stargazing, it’s beautiful! I've just started playing the piano. It really helps me to chill out when I do things which require my full concentration, and this definitely does! I’ve still got a lot to learn when it comes to commanding the keys though…”
How do you make sure that you get enough sleep with so much going on?
“I absolutely prioritise my sleep. I read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker and reiterated to just me how important it is to get enough of the shut-eye stuff! I go to sleep with industrial ear plugs which mould into my ear and seal off all noise, and I wear an eye mask every night and have blackout curtains. I have a Memory Foam pillow to mould around my head and I just nestle down with all of my senses shut off, so there’s nothing left to do but nod off.
“I don’t know if you’ve found this happens to you, but I often tend to wake up a minute or two before my alarm goes off. If my usual alarm jolts me awake from a deep sleep it’s usually a sign that I haven’t been sleeping enough. During the pandemic I haven't needed an alarm because I have no commute, so it’s been perfect for really trying to get my eight hours where I can.”
Do you let your work stress float into your personal life, or do you think you’re quite good at keeping the two separate?
“I’m good at keeping the two separate, or at least I’d like to think I am. I really hate the word ‘stress’, I think just saying the word makes us stressed out. Even just altering my language is a great way to keep my mind positive, it’s the whole mindset of not thinking that a problem has arisen in your life but that a challenge has arisen in your life. That’s something I try to do where I can.
“I mean, stress can be so detrimental to your health – even more so than not exercising, overeating or not sleeping (to name a few), so I try to manifest a life of low stress, but sometimes of course I face challenges. I always try to switch off over the weekend as a priority, which I think makes a huge difference.
“Ultimately though, with so many things going on in life, most things that happen to you that you aren’t happy with are out of your control, and worrying about them won’t help if you can’t control them. It’s important to take a moment to reflect: What's the worst that can happen? Why am I really worrying?”
Describe your ideal day of relaxation
“A day at a spa with mum, myself or my friends, eating delicious foods and lots of fresh fruits, lying down, having someone knead my body and just massage me like a piece of dough! Don’t underestimate the relaxing power of massaging those muscles, face and body! A walk through some woods would top it off, with zero screen time, no social media and a nice dinner in the evening with good company. Now that I've talked about it, I think I might get a date in the diary!”
Where’s your favourite out-of-office place to chill?
“Can I say the beach? I have a mural of the beach on my wall at home in my living room. It’s painted to make me feel like I'm on the beach and my sofa is blue, so when I’m surrounded by food and snacks watching Friends or a nature programme, or maybe the Neil deGrasse Tyson series Cosmos on Prime, I feel truly relaxed.”
Do you meditate?
“I’m trying really hard to, it’s actually one of my goals this year! I try to meditate to a certain extent when I try to get to sleep, I simply lie down and concentrate on my breathing. I usually end up nodding off rather than emptying my mind, but it’s definitely a start.”