ElsaMarie D’Silva, founder Safecity and founder CEO Red Dot Foundation, has sought to make a difference in whatever she does and lead a meaningful life by inspiring others through actions. She has diverse interests of social entrepreneurship, aviation, sugar craft, mental health, personal development and coaching. She believes that nothing is impossible if you put your heart into it. Excerpts from an interview:
Thrive Global India: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Elsa D’Silva: Every morning I wake up feeling grateful for my life. I take a few minutes to orient myself as I travel a lot, then I think about the important events for the day, reflect on them and when I am fully present, I get out of bed. The next thing I do is say my prayers, asking for guidance, strength and courage to deal with all the knowns and unknowns ahead of me. I then practise about 15 minutes of yoga which helps me centre myself and think about my mind and body. Regulating my breathing helps immensely.
TGI: How do you unplug and recharge?
ED: I try to stick to the above routine as much as I can. The yoga definitely helps me stretch myself and gives me the energy I need for the rest of the day. It also makes me think of my body, the aches, pains, stiffness or flexibility and my energy levels. Later I try to complement this with walking at least 10,000 steps.
TGI: What’s your favourite well-being tip?
ED: I am constantly travelling on work. This gives me a high as I get to meet my friends in different places. I usually try to take in a cultural event or see a new tourist attraction even if I return to the same city or country. I tend to listen to my body and if I need to, I may just stay indoors and rest rather than step out.
Some of my travel tips are to drink a lot of water, choose green or black tea over coffee with milk and eat a lot of salads and greens. But I also like trying new cuisines as that is part of the travel experience.
TGI: Tell us about your relationship with your phone
ED: My phone is very important as it is a mini computer. The ringer is always on silent and I find that to be extremely helpful. Another tip is, don’t answer emails on the phone as there is always a pressure to respond immediately and you might do so impulsively. Give yourself some “phone free” time during the weekend and even during parts of the day. It might be difficult but it can be done.
TGI: How do you deal with negativity on social media?
ED: I am quite active on social media and treat it as a marketing tool. I scan through my feed but I don’t spend too much time on it and skip through the comments on Twitter. So if there is any negative content, I just ignore it. Also, I do not take things personally as everyone has their own point of view. This helps me post objectively and stay sane.
TGI: When was the last time you felt burned out?
ED: I don’t recall being burned out. My entire career of over 25 years first in aviation and now as a social entrepreneur working on sexual violence prevention has been a constant learning journey. As long as my work is exciting and satisfying, I don’t mind putting in long hours. I feel privileged to be able to do my current work with Safecity where we are crowd mapping sexual violence anonymously and using the information to make public spaces safer. It gives me a greater purpose, as I know through my work I am adding value to other people’s lives.
While I don’t believe in work-life balance, I do believe in work-life integration. It helps that I have more control over my schedule now as I am my own boss. So I can structure my day accordingly with a mix of work and play. Working from home in a city like Mumbai saves me a lot of time and when I do have to step out for meetings, I cluster them on the same day.
TGI: What would you do on an ideal day?
The best part of my day is facetiming my little nieces in Australia and Singapore. No matter where I am in the world, I try to catch a few minutes with them on a daily basis. They perk my spirits and for that window of time, I forget about the stresses of life.
TGI: How do you incorporate well-being into your daily life?
ED: “Me” time is precious and has to be built into one’s schedule. I calendar my appointments for regular massages, manicures and pedicures as these destress me. Reading, writing, listening to music, dreaming about my next travel destination and relaxing with a glass of wine with my girlfriends are some of the ways I unwind. I try to make it to church for Mass at least once a week wherever I am. It helps me feel part of a community and reflect on my past week. It is also a time when I do not carry my mobile phone with me.
Finally surrounding yourself with loved ones and positive people is an investment in yourself.
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